The dangers of not watering your Christmas tree

A dry tree can easily catch on fire.

ByABC News
December 6, 2017, 5:00 PM

— -- No one wants an accident to ruin one’s holiday spirit. Emergency rooms across the country last year treated 14,700 holiday decorating-related injuries, an average of about 240 injuries per day, safety officials said.

The good news is that the vast majority of these injuries are avoidable.

At a Maryland laboratory today, Consumer Product Safety Commission officials explained the potential dangers of not carefully decorating one’s home for the holidays.

In a demonstration with reporters, CPSC experts ignited a frequently-watered tree and an unwatered tree; the difference was unnerving.

The dry tree was fully engulfed in flames in mere seconds, while the flames on the watered one failed to spread before firefighters moved in to douse the two trees and end the demonstration.

CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle said safety should always be top of mind.

“Make sure your live Christmas tree has plenty of water, keep lit candles away from flammable items, and use caution when standing on a ladder or a chair to hang decorations,” said Buerkle.

A Christmas tree stand should have water in it at all times, CPSC experts said. From 2012 to 2014, authorities reported at least 100 fires involving Christmas trees and at least 1,200 fires involving candles during the 2012 to 2014 holiday seasons.

The CPSC offered several tips for those preparing for the holiday season.

1) Ensure your natural tree is fresh with sturdy, green needles and away fireplaces, vents and radiators. Artificial trees should be labeled "Fire Resistant."

2) Keep candles on a stable, heat-resistant surface where kids and pets cannot knock them over.

3) Sets of lights and their wires should not be cracked, frayed or bare and make sure they are tested by a nationally-recognized testing laboratory.

4) Do not burn wrapping paper in the fireplace; it can ignite suddenly and cause a flash fire.

5) Working and tested smoke alarms should be on every floor of the home and every bedroom. Early warnings save lives.

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