By Ron VandenBoom
The Havre Fire Department reminds local residents that a happy holiday is a safe holiday. And a safe holiday means taking precautions and using common sense when holiday decorating.
Craig Ellingson, Havre fire chief, said Havre residents need to keep in mind that a live tree in the house requires that families take special fire safety precautions. A burning tree can quickly fill a room with deadly gases and fire.
Two thousand injuries every year and more than $500 million in damage occur every year due to holiday related fires, according to figures released by the United States Fire Administration.
Ellingson has released a list of fire safety tips for the holiday season.
The first tip is that Christmas tree shoppers should first be sure to select fresh trees.
Needles on the tree should be green and hard to pull off the branches. The needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut.
Ellingson advises that trees that have dried out are a fire hazard.
Shoppers should notice whether the trunk of the tree is sticky and if the tree is bounced on the ground a shopper should take note of how many needles fall off. If a lot of needles fall off, the tree is probably a safety hazard.
Ellingson's tips also include using common sense when picking a place to display a tree.
Do not place a tree near heat sources such as heating vents or fireplaces. A heat source will not only cause a fresh tree to dry out quicker, but sparks or flames from fireplaces can easily ignite a dry tree.
Ellingson's tips recommend against keeping a live tree up for more than two weeks, so don't put the tree up too early or leave it up too long.
The tree stand should also be kept filled with water at all times to help keep the tree fresh longer.