"Oh, Christmas tree, oh, christmas tree, how lovely are your branches." 

Christmas trees are a festive way to get in the holiday spirit, but what most people don't realize is the risk they can pose and what a fire hazard they can be. If you're one of the 85% of Americans who will be putting up a tree this year, take care to avoid creating risks that could damage your home and injure your family, guests or pets this holiday season with our helpful tips and infographic.

Choosing Your Tree

Choosing the right tree can help prevent some holiday home risks. If you’re going the artificial route, make sure to choose a tree that is labeled fire retardant. Fire retardant trees will take longer to burn, giving you more time to react in case of a fire. If you're choosing a live tree, look for one that looks healthy. It should have bright green leaves that don't shed easily. Fresh cut trees are optimal so ask the sales person when the tree was cut down. If well cared for, Christmas trees last about a month from the date they were cut down.

Once you get home with your tree, there are steps you should take to ensure that the tree remains healthy and does not pose a fire hazard in your home. If you choose a live tree, trim the base of the tree a half inch to 1 inch so it will accept fresh water. Live trees need to be watered daily and some can take over a gallon of water per day. For both live and artificial trees, choose a spot in your home that is at least 3 feet away from any heating source, be it a radiator, fireplace, or space heater. Choose a spot that does not obstruct any exits and one that is preferably near an outlet to avoid the use of extension cords that could trip people in your home.

Decorating Your Christmas Tree

For many families, one of the joys of the Christmas season is decorating the tree. Depending on your family situation, there are certain steps you should take to make sure the tree is safe for everyone to enjoy. Inspect extension cords and Christmas lights for fraying and damage before adding to the tree to avoid creating a fire hazard. Be sure to unplug the lights on your tree before leaving home or going to bed. Over time the lights can get hot and pose a fire hazard, especially as your tree ages and dries out.

Carefully choose where you hang certain ornaments, if you have young children or pets avoid placing delicate and fragile ornaments in the lower branches. For sentimental or valuable ornaments that could be easily broken, consider placing them somewhere safer than on the tree like in a decorative vase.

When the Christmas holiday ends, remove your tree quickly. Especially if you have chosen to put a live tree in your house, the longer it is up, the more risk it creates. It dried out tree can go up in flames very quickly and such a large object could cause serious damage to your home. One in 31 home fires caused by Christmas trees results in death compared to one in 144 for home fires caused by other reasons, according to the NFPA. That is shocking and a clear illustration of the caution your family should take with your Christmas tree.

Insurance Concerns

It wouldn't be right to publish this on InsuraMatch if we didn't let you know about the insurance concerns related to Christmas trees. Though seemingly unrelated, the risks listed above can have a financial impact on your home and your family. For example, small and large fires, a guest’s injury from a fallen ornament or tripping over an extension cord can be costly events. In many cases, your homeowners insurance will help protect you from the costs of these sorts of claims, thanks to both your personal property and liability coverage. If you'll be putting up the tree or having guests over this holiday season, consider giving your agent a call to review your homeowners policy an ensure is up to date. Make sure you have the proper limits to cover your belongings in your home structure in case of fire.

We've created a handy infographic to remind families that though beautiful, Christmas trees can pose some safety risks to your family if not put up with care and consideration. Please share to make sure that your friends and family stay safe this holiday season. From all of us at InsuraMatch, we wish you a happy holiday season.