1. Make sure that the tree you choose is fresh and free of problems by checking the flexibility of the needles and the number of needles that fall off when you pull your hand over a branch. A few needles is fine, more than a few and the tree is too dried out. Also look for discoloration, pest infestation and check for a straight, smooth trunk at the base.
2. When transporting the tree, if not inside of your vehicle or down inside the bed of a pickup, tarp the tree to prevent wind damage and drying out of the tree.
3. When you get your tree home make a fresh trunk cut and place the tree into water immediately.
4. If bought early, store the tree outside after the fresh trunk cut in a bucket of water. Check and refill the water frequently.
5. Use a tree stand that is appropriate for the tree. Smaller trees can get away with smaller stands with a lesser water capacity. Larger trees need heavier stands with more support with more water capacity. If your stand needs more stability most can be attached to a piece of plywood. Purchasing a good heavy stand with more water capacity is a good investment and will last for years to come. If it prevents one fallen tree and the mess and breakage that comes along with it, a good investment.
6. Never let the tree run out of water! Water…water…water. Check very frequently!
7. If you purchase an artificial tree make sure that it is fire retardant.
8. Plan your tree placement carefully. Do not block exits or pathways, stay away from sources of heat such as windows, fireplaces, heat registers by at least three or more feet and make sure that electrical cords can be positioned safely.
9. Check your tree lights before putting them on the tree. Make sure that you use only "certified" lights and that you follow the recommendations on the lights. If you need "outside" lights make sure that they are manufactured for "outdoor" use. Upon your light inspection, if you find any frayed wires, damaged sockets, dispose of the lights. Lights are inexpensive compared to the damage a fire can cause.
10. Never use lights on a metal tree.
11. Whenever a tree is unattended turn the lights off. This could be during the day when not in the room, gone or most certainly at night when you go to bed.
12. When a tree shows a sign or drying out such as dropping needles or discoloring, dispose of the tree promptly. If you place the tree outside, place it away from any structures or flammables. It would be best to recycle the tree right away. DO NOT burn the tree!
13. People with small children and/or pets may need to consider additional precautions such as securing the tree to a wall or heavy furniture in order to prevent the tree being pulled over and keeping an extra close eye on small children around the small breakable ornaments.
These tips are intended as such. Christmas trees are extremely flammable and should be handled and cared for with great care. Please use common sense and error on the side of safety.
Have a Great Holiday Season.