LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — As December arrives with Christmas coming up, Las Vegas Fire and Rescue shared a few tips on Christmas tree safety.
LV Fire reports it expects more people are planning to put up real Christmas trees this year instead of imitation trees even with a shortage of trees due to the pandemic and wildfires.
So, many are buying their trees before the supply runs out, according to LVFR, which means people will have their trees in their homes for longer than usual.
Live Christmas trees went on sale in Las Vegas on Thanksgiving.
Officials say just about every year incidents involving live Christmas trees inside buildings increase during the week just before the holiday and until the end of the holiday period. The major reason is the tree was not kept hydrated enough.
Because of the dryness of the desert air and the unusually warm weather this year, LV Fire says it is extremely important that the Christmas trees be watered every day.
The tree should need no less than two gallons of plain water daily and watered once in the morning and again in the evening.
LV Fire says the water reservoir should never be permitted to run dry. If the water runs out, the tree will form a sap seal on the bottom of the trunk within 10 minutes to hold what water it has left inside. Once the sap seal is formed, no water will be able to get into the tree. The sap seal would have to be cut off the bottom of the tree trunk to let water get back into the tree. This is why it is so important to ensure the bottom of the trunk is always in water, so the sap seal can never form.
Also, officials say extensive tests have shown that trees thrive best on plain water with no additives.
Las Vegas Fire reports in a demonstration one tree was in a home for two weeks and it burned in less than a minute when it was not well maintained. While another tree was inside a home from Nov. 15 until Jan. 5 and it was properly watered. This Christmas tree would not ignite with a direct flame.
A common ignition source of Christmas trees is electric lighting, according to LVFR. If the tree is not properly watered, small lights can provide enough heat to cause a fire. Another is static electricity - touching the tree with a static charge can start the tree on fire.
Additionally, Las Vegas Fire shared these Christmas tree safety tips:
Getting a tree
- When selecting a tree, its appearance should be dark green and there should be some fragrance to it; this indicates there is still some moisture in the tree.
- The trees in the lot should be sitting in a bucket or bowl that is full of water, which indicates the tree was maintained.
- Perform a freshness test. Gently pull on a branch with a closed hand to see if needles will fall off into your hand. If needles fall off in excess, this means the tree is dead or dying and is not a good choice.
- When transporting the tree, try to cover it with a light plastic sheet, this way the wind will not pull out moisture from the tree. Exposed to wind, the tree acts like a radiator and will lose its moisture.
- Once the tree arrives at its destination, cut approximately one-half inch off the bottom of the tree trunk and then immediately put the tree in a bucket of water. This will allow water to re-enter the tree.
- Prepare a place inside the building to set up the tree. The location should be away from heating or electric devices, so the tree will not dry out more quickly.
Once the tree is set up in a building
- Water the tree twice a day every day. Never let it run dry. (It works well to water the tree before going to bed, and again just before leaving for work.)
- Perform a freshness test every day. Gently pull on a branch with a closed hand to see if needles will fall off. If needles fall off in excess, this means the tree is dead and is a hazard. It should be removed.
- Inspect all electric lighting for frayed or broken wiring before putting lights on the tree.
- Shut off electric lighting on the tree when you go to bed or leave the home.
- Keep the tree away from heat sources, which would accelerate drying out the tree.
- Keep smoking materials and candles away from trees.
If a Christmas tree should catch fire, officials say to leave the building immediately as it could consume an entire room in less than a minute.