Experts Warn About Dangers Of Balled-Up Lights, Where To Position The Tree In Your Home And Proper Watering

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Christmas trees are selling fast, and on Thursday fire officials warned of their dangers by showing how quickly they can go up in flames.

CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas shows us what you can do to keep your family safe.

It’s a familiar set up. The Christmas tree is in the corner. It’s decorated with ornaments, a red bow and those old lights.

“When people take their lights off at the end of the previous year, this is what normally ends up happening,” Chief John Murray of the Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education Center said, demonstrating what balled-up lights look like.

The lights are unwound and used again. Then, all of a sudden, they spark a fire that engulfs the entire room in 90 seconds.

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Nassau County fire officials created a controlled burn to show how dangerous Christmas trees can be when they’re not properly taken care of.

“Every year we do have an incident with at least one Christmas tree,” said Chief Scott Tusa of the Nassau County Fire Marshal’s Office. “I can remember one incident here in Nassau County that there was a fatality.”

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Christmas trees being sold in Chelsea (credit: CBS2)

A Christmas tree become dangerous when they’re dry. The key to keeping you and your family safe starts long before you bring it home.

Chelsea Garden Center owner David Protell said he only sells Fraser Firs, which are the best at retaining water.

“They’re extremely fragrant and we don’t have problems with needle loss,” Protell said.

Needle loss is a clear sign of a dry tree. Arborist Laura Wooley explained how to check.

“Pull on a branch from the inside towards the outside. If no needles fall off then you can be pretty sure that that’s a fresh tree,” Wooley said.

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Once you’ve picked a good tree make sure you get a fresh cut and get the tree into plenty of water.

“For every inch of trunk diameter you want to have a quart of water,” Wooley said.

To prolong their freshness keep trees away from the sun, radiators or fireplaces. Experts say if they are well taken care of they can last with no problems through the holidays.

Fire officials are reminding families to make sure the tree does not block any entrances or exits just in case of an emergency.