As Christmas trees start going up across the Ozarks, firefighters share safety tips

Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 10:03 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - It’s officially the time of year Christmas trees start going up and yards now sit decorated in all sorts of holiday colors.

Many Christmas tree shoppers across the Ozarks spent their Black Friday selecting the perfect tree to take home.

“Oh man, we do this every year,” said tree shopper Bryan Whitted. “The day after Thanksgiving we’re able to just grab a tree and jump right into the Christmas spirit.”

Picking the right tree, of course, is an important first step.

”I love the smell of the pine,” said Caitlyn Whitted. “It really gets me in the Christmas spirit. I love seeing our son get excited about the Christmas trees.”

But safety inside the home is just as important.

”Watering is the most important thing that people can do to make sure that they don’t create an unintentional fire hazard,” said Ozark Fire Protection District Fire Marshal and Asst. Fire Chief Don Gregory. “And then secondarily to that, as we decorate the trees with lights and different ornaments, we want to make sure that the lights we’re using are the kind that don’t generate any heat.”

These are tips tree shoppers, like the Whitted family, said they always follow.

“We like the LED lights,” Whitted said. “And we make sure to keep it watered. We water it regularly so it doesn’t dry out or anything.”

Firefighters also say to be sure to keep those trees away from any heaters.

“We want to make sure that we keep several feet and distance from the exhaust of that heater from your tree, from your drapes, from blankets, and from anything that could possibly be impacted by the heat that comes off of those heaters,” Gregory said.

Gregory said he recommends space heaters that have tip-over-turn-off switches.

“If your heater doesn’t have a tip-over-turn-off switch, we strongly encourage you to purchase a new one that has that safety measure built in so that if the heater accidentally gets knocked over in the overnight hours. So if you use it at night, it doesn’t accidentally cause a fire at your home,” he said.

On top of bringing those Christmas trees inside and getting those all ready to go, it’s also that time of year to put up lights outside. Gregory said that also comes with its own set of safety precautions.

”Don’t put up your lights by yourself,” he said. “Have someone there with you. Not only will they be able to be a spotter for you as you place your lights, but it helps prevent the repetition of going up and down the ladder where you’re most likely to see an injury occur as you try to transverse the ladder up and down.”

Firefighters also suggest you do not overload a power outlet.

“There’s a very amusing scene from National Lampoon where they have a huge plug on top of plug on top of plug,” Gregory described. “Of course we don’t recommend that. We recommend that you do use safety plugs and safety power strips with a fuse to get your lights lit.”

Gregory also said there are often many local services that can help install lights for you if you do not feel comfortable doing so.

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