The turkey feast has been devoured and with Thanksgiving now behind us many Hawaii residents are gearing up for a balmy holiday season in paradise. In Hawaii we can’t dash through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh – but we can take advantage of other holiday traditions.
And nothing heralds in the holidays like the twinkle of lights, your favorite ornaments and the well-loved scent of a Christmas tree in the home – and nothing can ruin the lighthearted festivities faster than someone getting hurt by your favorite holiday arrangement. To help you keep your loved ones safe during this joyous season, here are a few tips and suggestions on trimming the perfect Christmas tree:
The Honolulu Fire Department encourages residents to consider purchasing an artificial, fire-retardant tree. However, if you are committed to purchasing a live tree you should look for fresh, green trees with branches that are difficult to bend and which does not easily lose needles. A fresh tree will also be sticky to the touch.
The National Christmas Tree Association strongly discourages cutting or whittling the trunk of the tree to fit the stand which makes it more unstable. It’s also helpful to have one or more people assisting as you set up the tree – you can get the whole ohana involved! – to help make sure that the tree is straight in the stand before screwing or clamping it into place. If using a more “old fashioned” tree stand with screws, you might also consider weighting your tree or even tethering it to the wall or ceiling to further ensure that it can’t tip or fall. Keep your tree green.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) an estimated 0.12% of all residential fires over the year involve a Christmas tree (either real or artificial). When you bring your tree home, wash it down and leave it outside the house until you’re ready to decorate it. Cut one inch off the trunk to allow it to more easily absorb water and check the water level daily to ensure that it always has fresh water – a six foot tree will drink in about half a gallon of water every day. To help keep it fresher longer you can use a commercial preservative which can be mixed into the water or create your own homemade blend with one capful of bleach to every cup of water.
Before decking your trees boughs with holly (and your favorite lights and ornaments) think about where you place the tree, being careful to avoid heat sources such as a fireplace or heat vent and not to block exits and doors in the event of a fire. Be sure to inspect all holiday light wiring for defects or frays and read instructions carefully (indoor lights should only be used on the interior of homes and the same for exterior lighting). Also be careful not to overload extension cords which could cause them to overheat and start a fire.
It is never a good idea to experiment burning your tree to get rid of it. A dry Christmas tree can be consumed in fire in less than 10 seconds with 30 foot high flames and enough smoke to fill a large room. Once the holiday is over, remove all the lights and ornaments and discard it promptly outside and away from the house. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away.