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Christmas trees can be a fire hazard. Be safe this Christmas

Following these safety tips will help ensure a happy and safe holiday season for you and your family:

Before you select a tree, perform the FRESHNESS TEST. Gently grab a branch of the tree, about six inches from the trunk of the tree, and pull outward on the branch. When your hand reaches the end of the branch, open it and check for needles. A fresh tree will have only a few needles or none in your hand. If there are several needles, look for a different tree.

When you get your tree home, shake off as many dead needles before taking it in the house as you can. This can be done by picking up the tree and dropping it (on the tree stump) a few times.

Select the location for your Christmas tree carefully, keeping it away from fireplaces, heating vents, and other heat-producing appliances that may dry out the tree.

Saw at least an inch off of the trunk bottom.

Mount the tree in a stand that holds water. Keep the water level above the cut. This will keep the tree fresh and green while reducing the risk of fire.

Do not use lights that are frayed or operate with missing or broken bulbs.

Exercise care with extension cords. Use no more than three sets of lights per extension cord. Do not place the cords under rugs or in paths of travel.

Check your smoke detectors. If battery powered, the batteries should be changed twice each year. The Fire Department suggests that you change the batteries when you adjust clocks for Day Light Savings.

Do not attempt to burn branches from the tree it in your fireplace. Dry trees throw off a tremendous amount of heat and and can create a dangerous fire. After taking down the tree, leave it at the curbside for recycling.

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