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How watering your Christmas tree can prevent disaster

Christmas tree fires cause an average $16.2 million in damages annually, as well as multiple injuries and deaths.

ATLANTA — To many, Christmas trees are a symbol of family, friendship and holiday cheer. However, to the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Fire Protection Association, the Christmas tree means something else -- a potentially devastating fire hazard.

Christmas tree-related fires cause an average six deaths, 16 injuries and $16.2 million in damages every year, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The group said each year, U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 210 Christmas tree-related fires.

To combat Christmas tree fire hazards, the institute's Fire Research Division hosted an experiment -- demonstrating how a properly watered Christmas tree is less hazardous than a dry one. The video, as provided above, shows two trees side by side. The watered tree can be seen slowly smoking, as its dryer counterpart quickly erupts into flames.

The National Fire Protection Association offers several ways to reduce Christmas tree-related fire hazards:

  • Use a tree with fresh needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Cut 2” from the base of the trunk when placing the tree in a stand.
  • Keep the tree three or more feet away from heat sources such as fireplaces, candles or heat vents.
  • Never place the tree anywhere that would block an exit.
  • Add water to the tree daily.
  • Only utilize lights listed by a qualified testing laboratory.
  • Never use strings of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Never decorate a tree by candlelight.
  • Turn off Christmas tree lights when leaving the home or going to bed.