Christmas trees, although a beautiful symbol of the season, can
prove dangerous (even deadly) if not cared for properly. While Christmas tree fires are fairly rare, when they do occur they quickly create a dangerous situation, as seen in this video:
Selecting a Tree
Always choose a freshly cut tree. When picking out a tree, strike
the stump down on a firm surface; if needles fall off, the tree
is too dry.
Once your tree is home, cut off 1/2 to 1-inch of the stump before
placing it in the stand. Fill the stand with water immediately.
Beware that your tree could absorb as much as a gallon of water
the first day. Check your tree's water and refill it often.
Decorate your Christmas tree with safe tree lights and non-combustible
decorations. Some lights are not made for indoor use and should
not be put on Christmas trees. If you are using larger tree lights,
be sure a reflector is placed around each light, rather than a
All lights should be listed by a testing laboratory, (i.e.,
UL or FM Approved)
Never use electric lights on a metal tree.
Follow manufacturer's instructions on proper use of tree lights.
Any string of lights with worn, frayed or broken cords or loose
bulb connections should be discarded immediately.
Avoid overloading electrical circuits or creating an "octopus"
with too many cords.
Always unplug Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going
Never use lit candles to decorate your tree. Place all decorative
candles far from tree branches & other flammable Christmas
Keep your tree well-watered.
Choose a sturdy tree stand that won't tip over easily.
If you will be purchasing an artificial tree, be sure it is
Keep watch over children around Christmas trees; never let children
play with wiring or lights. Keep all matches and lighters in a
locked cabinet, far from children's reach.
Keep your tree and all other flammable materials at least three-feet
away from heat sources.
Discarding Your Tree
Dispose of your tree immediately when it begins dropping needles.
Dried-out trees are highly flammable and should not be left in
a house, garage, or leaning against the outside of the house.
Tree recycling has become more wide-spread; check to see where
facilities exist in your area.
NEVER burn your tree in a fireplace. Christmas tree branches
put off a large amount of heat and could cause a fire. Christmas
trees also cause oily soot which may damage your fireplace.
P.O. Box 410 / 18027 Calle Ambiente • Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067 • 858-756-5971 • Tony Michel, Fire Chief