Millions of U.S. households display a Christmas tree each year during the holiday season. The Christmas tree is the most recognized symbol of the Christmas holiday, and putting it up and decorating it each year is a time honored family tradition. Unfortunately, with Christmas trees also come dangerous accidents and injuries. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 10,000 people visit emergency rooms each year due to accidents related to holiday decorating. The following is a safety checklist of 20 important items to consider when selecting and decorating your family Christmas tree.1. If you prefer a live tree, it's important not to buy your tree too early. Live trees should only be displayed for 3 weeks. If you want to leave your tree up until New Year's, you should not purchase and set up the tree until December 12th to 14th.

2. When purchasing a live tree, tap the trunk on the ground. If the tree loses a lot of needles, chances are it's dried out. Always purchase a freshly cut tree, if possible. Dried out live trees are fire hazards.

3. Once you've chosen your live tree, be sure to make a fresh cut at the base of the trunk before putting it in your stand. If you do not have the right equipment to do so, have the supplier make the cut before you leave with the tree.

4. Be sure your tree stand holds adequate water and keep the reservoir full at all times.

5. Also be sure that you don't buy too large of a live tree for your tree stand. If your tree stand is too small or doesn't hold the tree securely, buy a new one.

6. To help prevent you from forgetting to water the tree, buy an automatic tree waterer. Tree waterers are widely available online and are quite inexpensive.

7. When positioning your live tree, be sure not to set it up next to a radiator or furnace vent, as this could dry the tree out faster.

8. If you're purchasing an artificial tree, be sure to buy one that is coated with fire retardant.

9. If the base that came with your artificial tree is getting wobbly or is broken, purchase a replacement artificial tree stand.

10. Pre-lit artificial trees are plus because many have in-line fuses. If one of the fuses burns out you can simply replace it with exactly the same size. Most pre-lit trees come with extra fuses. Store these in a readily available location, so you can find them each season. The best place would be in your tree storage bag.

11. Position your tree in a corner or less traveled area, so people walking by won't knock ornaments off the tree or trip over extension cords.

12. When setting your tree up, position it near an outlet, so you won't need extension cords.

13. If you do need extension cords, be sure to run them along a wail, so they won't be a tripping hazard.

14. Never run extension cords under an area rug.

15. Be sure you don't plug too many strings of lights into one outlet, and also be sure you don't connect too many strings together. Typically, you should not run more than three strings of lights together.

16. Check your lights for broken or burned out bulbs, frayed cords, burned plugs, and other signs of wear or damage. Light strings or extension cords that are worn or damaged should be thrown away or recycled.

17. Never place lighted candles or open flames on or near your tree. Trees should also never be placed near a fireplace, as sparks can ignite the branches or decorations.

18. Always be sure to unplug tree lights before you go to bed.

19. Instead of ornament hooks, consider tying ornaments to your tree with ribbon. Ornament hooks cause many injuries each year to children and pets.

20. When you take down a live tree, be sure to dispose of it quickly and properly. Try to take the tree down immediately prior to your city's pickup date for trees.

With a little planning and some good common sense, you can enjoy your Christmas tree and still keep yourself and your family safe. Remember, good tree safety means a happy holiday for everyone involved!

About the Author: Ellen Bell works for Home Products n'More, a company dedicated to providing quality products for the home, garden, and auto.

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