view counter

Have a Fire-Safe Christmas

How to buy and treat your tree

      A fresh-cut Christmas tree is not necessarily a safe Christmas tree. An evergreen tree loses water from its needles as soon as it is cut. It will lose more water after you tie it to the roof of your car and drive 50 miles per hour. If you don’t care for that tree properly after you arrive home, it can rapidly become a fire hazard by the time you bring it indoors and decorate it.
      If you can’t transport the tree in the trunk of your car, in the back of a station wagon or under a tarp on a truck, wrap the tree with plastic or canvas before lashing it to the roof of the car. At the very least have the tree bound with string or netted to reduce the air movement through the branches.
In Maryland it is illegal to carry a tree on the roof of a car without a roof rack by tying it through the windows.
      As soon as you get home, cut an inch from the stump and plunge the tree into 100-degree water. Store it in shade. Spray with a fine mist of water at least once a day to saturate the foliage. If you have a pond or swimming pool, submerge the tree in water for several days before bringing it indoors.
      Just before you bring the tree indoors, cut another inch from the stump. As soon as it is fitted in the stand, fill the stand with 100-degree water. A fire-safe Christmas tree stand should hold at least one gallon of water. A galvanized stand is better as the zinc prevents fungi from sealing the surface of the stump. Pitch oozing from the cut stump can prevent the tree from absorbing water.
      Never allow the water in the stand to dry out. Never place the tree near a radiator, heating vent or fireplace. If the tree can only be located near a hot-water or steam-heating baseboard, wrap aluminum foil over the baseboard to prevent the convection currents from drying the lower branches.
      If you purchase your Christmas tree from a pre-cut lot, buy as soon as the lot opens. Avoid full-sun lots, as those are the worst conditions for storing cut trees. Trees sold in corner lots may have already been cut and stored for several weeks before they are delivered.
      Tree lots owned and operated by Maryland Christmas tree growers do not begin to cut trees until after November 1. This is not true for trees grown and cut from other states. In the Baltimore-Washington area, pre-cut trees often come from Oregon, Maine or Michigan.
     The three most fire-resistant Christmas tree species, as selected by the state of Maryland Fire Marshal’s office are Douglas fir, Scots pine and blue spruce.