Properly caring for your Christmas Tree will prevent fires that can cost lives

MADISON, Ala. -- Families across the Tennessee Valley have been busy decking the halls and hanging stockings by the chimney with care. But firefighters want to make sure your Christmas is not only merry but safe. It all starts with that most traditional of Christmas symbols, the tree.

This is the last thing anyone wants to see at Christmas, and yet Captain Michael Sedlacek with Madison Fire and Rescue says it happens all too often. "We average two hundred fires a year nationally just based off of Christmas trees, and of those sixteen deaths are reported."

Firefighters want to remind you how easily a fire can start in your own home. Madison Fire and Rescue conducted a demonstration with a dry tree cut a month ago and a properly watered tree inside makeshift rooms.

"The purpose of it being cut a month is that when people put up trees directly after Thanksgiving and they don't take care of them, by the time Christmas comes it's been a month and the trees are very dangerous if they're not taken care of properly," Sedlacek said.

The results were sobering. The lingering smell of char seeped out of the destroyed furniture in the room with the dry tree. Nothing but a twig remained in the corner. On the other hand, the watered tree took more than eight minutes to ignite and even died down toward the end, leaving the demo room mostly intact.

"When you get home, cut a sliver off, maybe a half-inch to an inch off the bottom, and you want to make sure that you got a tree stand that has watering capability," Sedlacek advised.

Many of these fires are caused by electrical issues. Decorations and ornaments only fuel the fire. So stay on top of it and keep your family safe this Christmas season.