by Jacob Jones
With all those bright lights and shiny ornaments, most holiday revelers forget their Christmas trees — thick with dry, dead branches and pine needles — make quite the potential firestorm.
The Spokane Fire Department recently released a list of tips to help keep your sparkly family Christmas tree from spontaneously combusting into a furious column of hellfire. They also linked to several terrifying videos of trees basically exploding into flames.
"The combination of oil, pitch and dry branches is excellent fuel that if ignited, can become an eight-foot blowtorch in your home," the news release warns. "The key is to keep your tree as fresh as possible and reduce the chances that it ever ignites."
Fire officials recommend:
• Start with a fresh, live tree. If you grab a branch and needles fall off readily, pick another one.
• Make a new cut to the bottom of the tree. Just like flowers, a freshly cut trunk will soak up more water to keep the tree moisturized.
• Water frequently. The average tree can soak up nearly a gallon of water a day. And if the water level falls below the base of the trunk, pitch can seal over the end, reducing future water retention.
• Use UL-approved lights, which produce less heat and don't dry trees as much. Also, plus lights into a surge protector strip that can shut off if overloaded. Always unplug lights overnight or when leaving home.
Oh, Christmas tree. Oh, Christmas tree!
Here's some additional information and more scary videos from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.