MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Many mid-southerners will be decorating live Christmas trees instead of artificial ones in homes this season. While they may smell like the holidays, when natural trees dry out, they can become a huge fire hazard and danger. Christmas trees are full of flammable oil. When they properly watered and hydrated, live trees can be as safe as artificial trees, because the water creates a natural moisture barrier between the oil and any heat source.
Many times, live Christmas trees are places in living rooms next to couches, draperies, carpet and fire places. Everything in a home is fuel for a fire. Signs that your tree is drying out are if needles start falling off and if some discoloration is taking place. At this point, the tree should be disposed of immediately. Frayed Christmas light strands or a nearby candle can easily ignite dry needles on a Christmas tree. It only takes 10 seconds for a dried out tree to be completely on fire.
Brent Perkins with the Shelby County Fire Department said, "Fire departments will respond to 240 to 250 Christmas tree fires a year across the country. With a little common sense, it’s a low probability, but a high consequence."
A Christmas tree on fire reaches temperatures up to 900 degrees! Fire officials say to check smoke detectors because they double the chance for you to get out of a burning home. Keep live trees watered heavily and away from heat sources.
"Enjoy the natural tree, keep it watered, but when it's time to go, it's got to go," said Perkins.
When it is time to get rid of a dried up tree, do not leave trees in ditches or on the curb. Instead, the Shelby County Public Works Environmental Division has a designated tree drop-off site at the Showplace Arena next to the Agricenter. From December 22nd through January 8, 2012, you can drop off Christmas trees around the clock and they will be disposed of and recycled. The Showplace Arena is located at 105 South Germantown Road.