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Holiday Season Safety

Choosing a Christmas Tree 
Always get a tree that is freshly cut. A dried out Christmas tree can be totally consumed by fire in less than 30 seconds. A fresh tree will stay green longer, retain its fragrance and be less of a fire hazard.

Three Freshness Tests

  1. Branch Test - Draw the end of the branch (15 cm or 6 inches) through the cup of your hand. The needles should slide through your hand without coming off.Stump Test - Bang the stump end sharply on the ground. A freshly cut tree should not lose its green needles. Remember that conifers shed some of their needles almost constantly and some of these older yellow needles may still be lodged against the inner branches. Needle Test - Fold a needle back until the tip touches the stem making a circle. The needle should not break but should bounce back into shape unless it is frozen.


If you buy your tree several days before you plan to set it up, store the tree outdoors or on a cool porch or patio until you are ready to decorate.

Setting up your Christmas Tree

  • Before setting up the tree, saw two inches (5cm) diagonally off the end of the trunk. This will remove the dried end and allow the tree to absorb water.

  • Use a tree stand that has widespread legs for better balance and a large water reservoir in which to immerse the tree butt.

  • Trees are thirsty. They may drink up to four litres of water per day, so be sure to check daily and supply fresh water as needed. A stand that holds a least four litres of water is recommended.

  • If you allow the water level to drop below the bottom of the tree, a seal will form just as it does on a cut flower and a new cut will be necessary.

  • Do not set your tree up near a heat source such as a radiator, television, fireplace, or heating duct.

  • It should not block doors or windows.

Decorating your Christmas Tree

  • Use Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certified lights.

  • Inspect lights before use. Check for cracked bulbs and for frayed, broken or exposed wires, and discard if faulty.

  • Choose decorations that are flame-retardant, non-combustible and non-conductive.

  • Avoid using angel hair (glass wool) together with spray-on snowflakes. This combination is highly combustible.

  • Turn off the tree lights when you leave and before you retire at night.


Following these safety measures should ensure tree that stays fresh indoors. Remove the tree within 10-14 days. After that amount of time in a heated building even the freshest tree will begin to dry out.

Holiday Lights
Use only lights that have been tested for safety. Check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections.

Check labels of lights to be used outdoors to see that they are suitable for outdoor use. Never use indoor lights outside. Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, walls or other firm support to protect them from wind damage. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and do not use more than the recommended number of lights in one circuit.

Holiday Plants
Holly and Mistletoe can be fatal to a small child and the smaller the child, the smaller the dose that can cause serious medical problems. Poinsettia leaves are not fatal if swallowed, but can cause a skin rash and an upset stomach. Call 9-1-1 if your children ingest these holiday plants.

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