NEW YORK (CBS Newspath)- Families across the country decorate their homes with Christmas trees, holiday lights, and festive candles during this time of year. But some of those decorations can also lead to a disaster if not cared for properly.
Experts say it’s important to buy a new Christmas tree that’s not already dry. When shopping, Chief John Murray with the Nassau County Firefighters Museum in New York suggests you “bounce it on the ground, see if it has any needle drop. If it has a lot of needle drop, don’t buy it.”
Once you have the tree at home, it is important to make sure you water it regularly. “A dry Christmas tree can go up in seconds. So, it’s so important again to keep that fresh tree watered and you want to do that by watering it daily,” says Nikki Fleming with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
During a safety demonstration, the CPSC set a tree that had been properly watered on fire. The fire smoldered out after about 30 seconds. A second tree that hadn’t been watered and was dry was also set on fire. The flames on that tree spread quickly. In ten seconds, the ceiling caught fire and soon the entire room was engulfed in flames.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission says trees need to be kept away from space heaters and anything flammable.
Misplaced candles are also a safety risk. It’s important to keep them away from curtains or anything else flammable.
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Putting up decorations can also be dangerous. There are about 160 decorating related injuries every day during the holiday season, according to the CPSC. Most of them happen when people fall off a ladder.
Ken Wilson recently fell 11 feet onto the concrete while he was putting up Christmas lights. “When I did fall, I guess I laid there unconscious for a couple of minutes. I’ve got six fractured ribs.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission says nearly 15,000 people went to the emergency room because of holiday decorating-related injuries in 2019. The CPSC recommends that you have someone assist you and support you if you need to get up on a ladder to place decorations around your home.
Experts say taking a few simple steps can help prevent a tragedy this holiday season.