A favorite holiday movie is “Christmas Vacation.” And one of the most memorable (and hilarious) scenes is the squirrel flying out of the Christmas tree. While funny in the movies, the threat of Christmas tree mishaps can actually be quite serious.   

Unsecured Christmas trees can topple over and cause serious injury, especially to a young child, and according to reports, Christmas tree fires are the deadliest of household fires. On average, one in every 32 reported Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 143 total reported home fires.

Here are a few simple tips to ensure a beautiful and safe holiday season. 

1. Select a fresh tree. The tree should be green with needles that bend, not break. For pines and spruces, branches should be tough to pull, and fir trees should have needles that snap when bent. Also, look for a trunk sticky with sap.

2. Secure the tree. This will prevent it from accidentally falling over. If possible, make sure the tree stand is not on thick carpeting. Screw some eye-hooks into the wall and thread fishing line through the tree and tie to the hooks.  

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3. Keep ornaments high. This is true especially for families with young children. Place ornaments off the lower limbs and consider using a gate around the tree to prevent kids from getting too close. Ditch the glass ornaments for non-breakable. 

4. Go hi-tech. Safer Alarms Inc. just released a first of its kind Christmas tree fire detector that looks like an ornament. While it looks like traditional tree decor, the ornament wirelessly connects to an alarm placed elsewhere in the home like near where you sleep. If the ornament detects unsafe heat, the alarm will sound (and continue to sound even if the ornament catches fire).

5. Water, water, water. Make sure the tree holder always has enough water. Cut an inch off the bottom of the trunk; fresh wood can absorb more water, so the tree will stay fresher longer. 

6. Be mindful of placement. Always place your tree at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. Only use indoor lights indoors and look for the UL label. Do not use any lights that are broken and make sure sockets are in good condition, and that there are no frayed or bare wires. Keep light off lower branches that pets or babies could reach as they might chew on the wire. Be sure to turn the lights off whenever you leave the house. And if you have ornaments that light up with an off/on switch, be sure to turn off as well.