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National Institute of Standards and Technology, YouTube

Have You Seen This? Why you need to water your Christmas tree

By Mary Dalrymple,  |  Posted Dec 13th, 2017 @ 3:33pm



THE LIVING ROOM — I have always been a firm proponent of real Christmas trees.

Growing up, we always got real trees, and even though a lot of people think fake trees are more practical, real trees just are extra Christmassy to me. I love going to the Christmas tree lot while bundled up in several layers because of the freezing temperatures, picking out the least lopsided tree, bringing it home, decorating it and then letting the smell fill the house for the next month.

What I don't love is the danger that comes with having a Christmas tree in the house.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology released a video last month demonstrating just how fast your festive holiday decor can turn into a massive and devastating house fire. It's pretty dramatic, but fortunately, there are also easy steps you can take to avoid this fate.

In the video, NIST shows two Christmas trees set up in identical living room settings — the difference is that one tree has been watered and one has not. A small fire has been started in the center of each of the trees, and as the clock ticks, we watch the flames begin to devour the branches. As you can probably predict, one tree burns way faster than the other.

Yesterday's Have You Seen This?

Within seconds, the unwatered tree has become a raging fire that reaches the ceiling and furniture and spreads rapidly. It doesn't even take a full minute for the tree to have lost all of its needles to the flames.

But what surprised me most was how slowly the watered tree burns. While the unwatered tree's flames have taken over the living room, the flames from the watered tree are only slightly visible, having just spread a tiny bit since the video started.

The video is fascinating, and while it's scary to think about your tree burning, it's also a great reminder of just how easy it is to take preventative steps to avoid disaster. Since this is actually the first year I've had my own Christmas tree as an adult (and this video definitely reminded me that I haven't watered it in a few days), you'll have to excuse me for a minute while I run home to dump a bucket of water in my tree stand.

If you want to be extra safe, here's the National Fire Protection Association's page on Christmas tree safety. Review it tonight and make sure your house is as fireproof as it can be this holiday season.

Mary Dalrymple,
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