RANDALLS ISLAND, N.Y. (WCBS 880/CBS 2) – Christmas trees and other holiday decorations may be pretty to look at, but they also pose a major fire hazard, officials say.

Anthony Van Cuso, director of fire safety education for the city, says people celebrating the holidays need to look out for certain things that can lead to a fire.

“You never want to have extension cords under the rug. It’s something that heats up. That’s definitely a fire hazard,” he said.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports

Van Cuso also says not to have a space heater by the tree since the tree is extremely flammable.

That’s one reason why Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano chose an artificial tree this year.

“I was with a real tree last year for the first time in many years. I’m going back to the artificial this year. I just don’t feel comfortable with a real tree,” Cassano said.

But you can avoid the fire hazards if you pay close attention to the tree, he said.

“Just water it constantly. If you check the water and if there’s always water in the bottom of the tree, it will always last longer for sure. It’ll stay fresh. You can feel the needles,” he said.

Cassano recommends that pet owners take care especially.

“They can knock over Christmas trees, if there are candles around, they can knock over the candles. They can claw at the wiring,” Cassano said.