l Your tree should be green and moist with a resin-sticky trunk, and pine needles that are difficult to pull from the branches. The needles shouldn’t break when bent. Needles shouldn’t abandon ship when branches are bounced.
l Keep your tree away from fireplace and other heat sources.
l Place the tree away from heavy traffic areas.
l Buy only fire-resistant artificial trees.
l Anchor the tree firmly to the stand.
l Keep pets away from Christmas tree water, as it may contain toxic fertilizer. Stagnant tree water is also a breeding ground for bacteria.
l Watch strings of lights—children can strangle on them and pets can chew them. Hang them high and hide or cover the cords near the ground.
l If you have pets, consider forgoing the tinsel. If swallowed, it can become lodged in the intestines and cause obstructions.
l If you have small children, consider using larger Styrofoam or plastic tree decorations. The glass kind can break and cause cuts, and the smaller ones can get stuck in the throat and cause choking.
l Place your tree so it’s not visible from the street, which can be a message to would-be burglars.
l Use timers for tree and window lights so they come on and turn off automatically, especially if you’re out of the house a lot during the holidays.
l NEVER use lit candles on the tree.
l Use flame-resistant and non-combustible materials.
l If you have small children, place bowls of miniature pinecones, potpourri, small ornaments, hard candy and nativity scenes with small pieces high and out of reach. These all can cause choking,
l Place poinsettias high also, as consuming large amounts can cause cramping and diarrhea. If they’re in a heavy decorative pot, a curious toddler can pull it over.
l Forgo the mistletoe and holly. If ingested, mistletoe will cause cramping and severe diarrhea—even death.
l Watch the decorative candle. Many a dog’s wagging tail has knocked a burning candle to the ground. And if you have pet birds, candles produce fumes that can be harmful to them.
l Use lights that are tagged and certified tested for safety.
l Get rid of old damaged sets.
l Use no more than three standard-sized sets of lights per extension cord.
l Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
l Outdoors, use only lights certified for this use.
l When to hanging lights outdoors, make sure the base of the ladder is free from clutter. Rest the ladder on a solid, level surface. Never use a ladder outside in high wind.