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12 Days of Holiday Hazards...Day 7

12/06/2008

On the seventh day of the holidays, my true love gave to me...A CHRISTMAS TREE

How could an innocent Christmas tree be dangerous? The main risk from the tree itself is as a fire hazard. My hubby, a captain in the FDNY, says that a Christmas tree is "a giant piece of kindling". He has been to lots and lots of fires started by Christmas trees. I asked him about this and why it happens; he said that it is most often from electrical wires (such as the lights we wind all over our decorated piece of kindling, extension cords nearby, etc.), and can also be due to candles, cigarettes, or other sources.

He told me that as the tree gets dryer and dryer, the risk of fire increases. So keep your tree well watered, and don't keep it around too long - don't put it up far in advance of the holiday, and don't leave it up long afterwards. I asked him how we can avoid Christmas tree fires, and he said "Don't have one." Uh oh.  Well, his job is to prevent fires, not make us feel better about Christmas trees. The bottom line is that they are a real fire hazard.

On this FDNY website are some great tips on preventing Christmas tree fires, and other seasonal fires as well. It says here that a large percentage of home fires occur during the winter holiday season. Yikes!

 Other Christmas tree-related risks include:

-Ingestion of pine needles (some animals seem to find them weirdly delicious)

-Rambunctious or climbing pets knocking the tree over (which can lead not only to injury but to a fire). Please be sure your tree is well-stabilized

-Ingestion of the Christmas tree water, which can contain fertilizer or be just plain yucky

-Glass ornaments, which can break into sharp pieces

-Tinsel (see the Fifth Day of Holiday Hazards)

-Other "stringy" decorations which can become entangled in a pet's intestinal tract, such as popcorn strings and ribbon ornaments

OK, I admit it's a bummer to realize that Christmas trees can be dangerous, but not nearly as much of a bummer as a fire in our home would be, right?

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