Don't let your Christmas tree go up in flames - New York News

Don't let your Christmas tree go up in flames

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GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -

Christmas trees and a glowing fireplace are festive holiday traditions, but they can be dangerous unless a few safety tips are observed.

Nothing makes a house look more like a home during the holidays than a fire burning in the fireplace and a Christmas tree. But set a tree to close to a fireplace and it could go up in flames.

Fire experts say there are some easy ways to prevent such tragedies. They say keep the tree far from any heat source.

"We would recommend that people keep them at least three or four feet away from the fireplace and away from heat ducts in the home as well," said Captain Thomas Rutledge of the Gwinnett County Fire Department.

Captain Rutledge says a dry tree is a dangerous tree, so keep it well hydrated.

"Anytime that tree begins to dry out, it's exposed to heat, especially if it's close to a heat vent in your home, that tree is going to dry out. Lights come on, it could spark a fire to combustible materials, like decorations that you have on your tree," said Rutledge.

The heat can be simply from the lights on the tree. Rutledge says don't overload your power source.

"It's very important to make sure that when you're stranding your Christmas lights you don't plug more than three cords together before you hook them into a power source. They need separate power sources," said Rutledge.

He says keep all flammable objects away from the fireplace, and have your chimney checked by a professional.

"A lot of our house fires that we see from a fireplace, related fires, is simply when that fire burns outside the fire box, runs up the chase, and you could be in the house and not even know it. And your neighbor knocks on the door and tells you your roof is on fire or that your chimney is on fire," said Rutledge.

Rutledge says you should always turn your lights off before you go to bed. And make sure your pets aren't drinking the tree's water. He says it's good time to go over your family's fire escape plan.

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