Keeping your holiday tree merry: TVF&R Offers Holiday Safety Tips

Keeping your holiday tree merry: TVF&R Offers Holiday Safety Tips



It’s the holiday season and traditions abound. One tradition many families have is bringing a cut tree into their home and decorating it with twinkling lights and ornaments.

Each year, these trees account for hundreds of fires across the nation. But keeping your tree healthy and green will help keep your holiday safe!

Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue encourages you to choose a healthy tree that has been recently cut or to cut one down yourself.


Below are some tips to keep your tree merry:

  • Right before placing the tree in its stand, cut about 2 inches from the base of the trunk. This helps the tree draw up water.
  • Once the tree is in its stand, add water daily or as needed.
  • Place the tree at least 3 feet from any heat source such as space heaters, fireplaces, heat vents, etc. Trees placed in a room where fireplaces and woodstoves are used will dry out much quicker and should be placed as far as possible from them.
  • Make sure the tree doesn’t block an exit.
  • Use only decorative lights that have a label of a recognized testing laboratory and make sure the bulbs, strings, and connections are not damaged or broken.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree.
  • Check for dryness by running your hand down a branch; if the needles fall off, the tree is too dry and should be taken down and disposed of properly.
  • Never burn a tree in your fireplace. The combination of dry branches, pitch, and tree oils can ignite within seconds, sending sparks and flames into the room.
  • Most communities in TVF&R’s service area have a recycling program where a dry tree can be disposed of properly.
  • If your choice is an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” This does not guarantee the tree won’t catch fire, but it indicates the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.


When it comes to brightening your home with twinkling lights, TVF&R offers the following tips:

  • Only use UL-approved, low-heat lights.
  • Always use outdoor lights outside and indoor lights inside.
  • Never use light sets with broken sockets, frayed and/or cracked wires, or missing sockets. Any one of these problems may cause an electrical shock or a fire.
  • Prior to using a light set, place it on a non-flammable surface and plug it in for 10 to 15 minutes to check for smoking or melting.
  • Lights should only be used on fresh or fire-resistant plastic trees. Never use electric lights on a metal tree as the tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights and a person touching the tree could be electrocuted.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to exterior walls, trees, or other firm supports to protect them from wind damage. Do not use nails or tacks to hold light strings in place. Instead, use plastic light string holders or run your light strings through hooks.
  • Only use outdoor-rated extension cords with outside lighting displays.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. Lights can short out and start a fire.


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