Tis the season! It’s the time of year again to start getting excited about and ready for the holidays. Of course, that includes choosing a tree to decorate. For a beautiful, classic look, Oregon pine trees are a great option. However, before just jumping into decorating, there are important precautions to take for decorating the trees both indoors and outdoors.
Read on below for some of the top safety tips.
If you already have Oregon pine trees on your property, you can decorate those. When hanging up lights outdoors, use a plastic or wooden ladder instead of a metal one to reduce the risk of electric shock. Also, do not hang up lights outdoors when it is raining or snowing.
Outdoors, the harsh winter winds and storms can cause the trees to fall over and lead to damage. Proper upkeep will help to prevent this. Pruning Oregon pine trees is incredibly important to keep them healthy, remove any damaged limbs, and reduce weight.
If you notice diseased limbs, cut those off before the disease spreads. It’s usually smarter to leave pruning to professionals, such as the staff of Mr. Tree.
Be mindful and selective when purchasing an Oregon pine tree to decorate. Look for a freshly cut tree, which will hold moisture better. Trees that are too dried out can be a fire hazard because the less moisture a tree has the easier it will catch fire and burn. It is safer to pick a tree with fresh, richly colored green needles, not one that has a lot of needles falling off.
There are ways to test how freshly cut the tree is. Try lightly shaking the tree, or even brushing a hand against a branch; if a lot of needles fall off, that’s not a good sign. A dry tree’s needles will also be stiff and sharp, while fresh trees’ needles are softer to the touch. Try bending individual needles; the driest needles will break easily. If the trunk of the tree is sticky to the touch, that also means that it is freshly cut.
Once the freshly cut tree has been purchased and is at a home, it is essential to monitor that it’s properly watered so that it doesn’t dry out. Use a tree stand that has the capacity to hold at least a gallon of water. The water should be replenished daily. As a general rule, the Oregon pine trees will need about one quart of water for every inch of trunk diameter. But the trees shouldn’t be overwatered either; the tree can hold up to one gallon of water, but more than that is overkill.
Before putting the tree on a stand, cut a few inches, or at least half of an inch, off of the bottom. Doing this will make sure the trunk has fresher wood that will be more absorbent, so it will stay fresh longer and won’t dry out. The tree needs to be steady on the stand and the screws connecting it to the stand need to be tightened so it is not in danger of toppling over. That could cause injuries, property damage, or even lead to a fire.
Where you place the tree inside the home is also important. To avoid the tree catching fire, make sure it is not placed near a fireplace, candles, heat vents, lights, space heaters, or radiators. A safe distance would be at least three feet away from any of those heat sources. The tree should also not be blocking any exits or hallways, in case of emergency.
Once it’s time to start decorating, inspect the tree lights before use and be sure to read the instructions. It is important to be careful to avoid an electric malfunction. For example, some string lights have a limit for how many can be connected together end-to-end. Also, check to make sure the lights you plan to use are UL (Underwriters Laboratories) certified.
Don’t use a string of tree lights that have worn, damaged, or broken cords, or lights that are broken, cracked, or loosely connected bulbs. If a broken bulb can be replaced, be sure to double check that the replacement is the same wattage as the other bulbs. If the replacement’s wattage is too high, it will cause the light strings to overheat.
Some lights specifically say if they are for indoor or outdoor use or both. Because of factors such as the harsh winter weather, lights that are specifically for indoor use should not be used outdoors. Doing so could lead to electrical or fire hazards.
Always make sure to turn off and unplug the tree lights at night before bed and when leaving the house. In addition to preventing a fire, this will also save on electricity costs. Another way to save on electricity costs is to use LED lights, which can also be a safer choice because they do not emit heat.
Absolutely do not decorate the tree with lit candles. This is far too much of a risk. If you really like the look of candles on a tree, use electric ones instead.
Finally, there’s the question of what to do with the tree once the holidays are over. Sometimes people leave their trees up inside their houses for a while. Or they take them down, but place them right outside of the house or in the garage. Again, because dried out trees are highly flammable, the Oregon pine trees should be taken out soon after the holidays end. The tree needs to be properly disposed of away from the home. You can either drop the tree off at a recycling center or have it picked up.
The holidays can be a hectic, stressful time, and taking these precautions gives you one less thing to worry about. If you have any questions about Oregon pine trees during the holidays or all year round, you can contact Mr. Tree. Our Portland-based staff has years of experience and expertise. Have a safe, festive, and happy holiday season!