SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — According to the National Fire Protection Association, every year fire departments across the country respond to 160 home fires that started with a Christmas tree.
Ryan Cox has his favorite ornaments on the family Christmas tree, which he cut down himself. A 15-year member of Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, Cox knows the importance of water.
“I forgot to water it one day and it sucks up sometimes like a gallon of water a day, so you’ve really got to monitor them, water them, make sure they don’t dry out, and if they do dry out then you’re going to have to take them out,” Community Risk Reduction Specialist Ryan Cox said.
“A dry Christmas tree will burn a lot faster than newspaper, to put into perspective how fast that fire can actually happen,” Fire Inspector Tyler Tjeerdsma said.
So if you decide to buy a real Christmas tree, choose carefully.
“If it looks like it’s dry, you touch it and the needles start to fall off a little bit, maybe look at a different Christmas tree, just make sure it’s a nice, freshly cut, green one,” Tyler Tjeerdsma said.
Once the tree is home and you start decorating…
“Take a look at your string lights, if there’s any broken bulbs, any frayed wires, anything like that, replace them right away. It’s an easy way to prevent a fire on your tree,” Tjeerdsma said.
One of the biggest keys in preventing a potential disaster is not leaving the lights on unattended.
“You want to make sure if you’re not home or at night when you’re sleeping, make sure those lights are off because no one is going to be out there and these trees can light up very quickly and flood that house with a lot of smoke and fire quickly,” Cox said.
And once Christmas is over, promptly remove the tree from your home.
“We have the drop-off sites. You can go on to the city website, find out when and where those are located and the nice thing about those, you take them out and get rid of them, they’re free,” Cox said.
Sioux Falls Fire Rescue will post the Christmas tree drop-off information on Facebook and Twitter once it becomes available.