Picking out and decorating a Christmas tree is a beloved seasonal tradition for families worldwide. And while a brightly-lit tree can certainly help people get into the festive spirit, putting up a tree is not always the safest thing to do. Many people don't realize it, but a Christmas tree can actually be a health hazard - and no one wants to deal with accidents or injuries during the holidays. Keep yourself and your family safe this year by being aware of these four common Christmas tree risks.
Christmas trees are a fire hazard
Live Christmas trees pose a major fire risk, and if your tree catches on fire, the rest of your house might soon follow. Candles, frayed wires, and space heaters can all cause your tree to go up in flames. If your tree is dry, the risk is even greater. Here's what you can do to prevent your tree from catching on fire:
Pick a tree that's fresh. Make sure it doesn't have a lot of brown, dried-out needles on it when you buy it. If you can, cut your tree down yourself instead of buying a pre-cut tree.
Water your tree every day. This will help keep it fresh longer.
Set your tree up far away from fireplaces, space heaters, candles, and any other potential sources of fire.
Check all your lights and extension cords for damage. If a cord is damaged, don't use it!
Get rid of your tree soon after Christmas or New Year's. Don't keep it up for the better part of January - the longer it dries out, the more of a fire hazard it becomes.
Switch to an artificial tree. Most artificial trees are fire-resistant.
Your tree could be triggering your allergies
If you tend to get the sniffles around Christmas Time, it might not be a cold. Your Christmas tree (or even your Christmas wreath) can harbor pollen and mold, which aren't exactly the kind of things you want in your living room. Even artificial trees can trigger allergies if they're kept in a dusty attic all year long. While this might be merely annoying for people with mild allergies, it can be downright dangerous for anyone with asthma or other breathing problems. Reduce your risk of Christmas tree allergies by shaking your tree thoroughly (or even rinsing it down) before you bring it into the house. If you have a fake tree, wipe it down well, and store it in sealed plastic bags to avoid having the same problem next year.
Decorating can lead to slips, trips, and falls
Don't injure yourself decorating your tree. Make sure you've got a sturdy step ladder on hand for hanging ornaments up high, and keep pets and small children out from underfoot while you decorate. Fragile ornaments can be risky if you have pets or kids, so consider using unbreakable ones instead.
Curious pets can get into trouble with Christmas trees
If you have a dog or a cat, keep an eye on them around your Christmas tree. Some pets will knock trees over while trying to climb them, which can lead to injuries, broken ornaments, and damage to the tree. Don't let your pets drink the water in the tree stand, either - it can contain chemicals that are bad for them.
Putting up a Christmas tree is a fun tradition, but it's important to know how to set up and maintain your tree safely. If you're not careful, your Christmas tree could cause injuries, breathing problems, or even a house fire. By taking a few precautions, you can keep yourself and your family safe from Christmas tree mishaps this year.