OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Tips for Christmas tree safety from OSU expert

12/16/1996

CORVALLIS - A fresh, green Christmas tree is a beautiful sight. But it is also a very real fire hazard.

The importance of keeping trees as fresh as possible while in the home can't be overemphasized. Bill Proebsting, Oregon State University professor of horticulture, shared some tips on keeping your cut Christmas tree safe: - Supply plenty of water. If the tree is to be stored for some time before being moved indoors, stand the tree trunk in a container filled with water. If the tree is to be displayed immediately, set the trunk in a tree stand that is designed to hold water. And don't forget to saw a half- to one-inch portion off the bottom of the tree trunk to allow the tree to take up water. Keep your tree stand filled for as long as the tree remains in the home. Check it daily, especially the first few days after it is cut.

- Locate the tree away from heat sources and away from doors in the home. In the event of a fire, the tree could block escape from the room.

- Keep the Christmas tree room cool. The cooler the room temperature, the longer the tree will stay fresh in the house.

- Turn your tree lights off when not around the tree.

- Do not burn candles on or near the tree.

- Avoid overloading electrical cords.

- Make sure your home's smoke detector is working properly and keep a portable fire extinguisher handy just in case.

- Do NOT add bleach to your Christmas tree water. Recent media reports have recommended that a bleach solution be used. This is a bad idea, according to Proebsting.

"Unfortunately, this recommendation to use bleach is incorrect and potentially dangerous," said Proebsting. "Bleach can quickly kill cut Douglas fir. The dead trees then become fire hazards. Generally, the best way for keeping trees fresh is to re-cut the base of the tree and place it in water. Well-watered trees should remain fresh for three or four weeks."