The holiday season can be chaotic. There are presents to buy, homes to decorate, parties to host, and about a thousand other things to take care of. It’s easy to get distracted or let things fall by the wayside, but here’s one chore that you really can’t skip: watering your Christmas tree.
It may seem insignificant, but a dry Christmas tree can pose a real danger to your home. The National Fire Protection Agency reported that between 2011 and 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 200 home fires started by Christmas trees each year. And of these Christmas tree fires, 1 of every 32 reported blazes resulted in a death.
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In this video from the National Fire Protection Agency, it takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to catch fire and burn down most of the (staged) living room.
As if that weren’t convincing enough, these side-by-side videos show the difference between a dry Christmas tree and a watered Christmas tree, and how quickly the fire spreads through both.
So how much should you water the tree? “Your stand should have a water reservoir that can hold one quart of water per inch of the stem’s diameter,” says Rachel Rothman, the Good Housekeeping Institute’s technical and engineering director. We’ll leave you to do the exact math, but basically this means you should top off the water in your tree stand daily.
You’ll also want to keep the tree away from fireplaces or other heat sources, and be careful with lights. Always check for frayed wires or other hazards before you put the lights up.
And it couldn’t hurt to test your smoke alarm one more time and talk to your family about fire safety.