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Be safe with live tree this holiday season

December 12th, 2011 8:40 am by Staff Report

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!
In beauty green will always grow
Through summer sun and winter snow.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!

Upstate residents are decorating for Christmas this weekend and many will be hanging ornaments from the branches of live trees. Celebrating the holiday with a real Fraser fir or spruce pine helps to bolster Tennessee’s burgeoning Christmas tree industry.
The National Christmas Tree Association offers the following tips for selecting the right tree for this holiday season:
Be sure you know what size tree you need before heading to the retail lot or tree farm.
Go to a retail lot that is well-lit and with trees stored in a shaded area. Some species last longer and remain fresh longer than others in different climates.
Do a freshness test on the trees. Green needles on fresh trees break crisply when bent sharply with the fingers. Look for indicators of dryness, such as excessive needle loss, discolored foliage, musty odor and wrinkled bark. When in doubt about the freshness of a tree, select another one.
Ask the retailer about opportunities to recycle Christmas trees in your community. Many areas host a “Chipping of the Green” in January to turn Christmas trees into mulch for landscaping. The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency has teamed up with the Johnson City/ Washington County Chamber of Commerce to establish a tREeCycle program to place Christmas trees in area lakes to create “habitat improvement structures” where fish can hide and find food.
Involve the whole family in the selection of a tree and plan fun things for everyone to do during the trip.
There also are some things to remember to do once you’ve gotten that tree home and are ready to decorate it. The U.S. Fire Administration says it is important that you take the following steps to make sure your live Christmas tree doesn’t become a fire hazard:
Don’t place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat or flames.
Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
Inspect all Christmas lights annually for frayed wires, bare spots and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. And use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
Never leave Christmas tree lights on unattended.
Following these tips will keep your tree fresh and healthy throughout the holidays so that on Christmas Eve your family will be able to gather around it and sing this verse from “O Christmas Tree” (as translated from the German hymn, “O Tannenbaum”):

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
You give us so much pleasure!
How oft at Christmas tide the sight,
O green fir tree, gives us delight!
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
You give us so much pleasure!

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