Officials: Christmas tree safety needs to be top priority during holiday season

Brian Kelly, fire marshal for Onslow County, warns people to make sure your Christmas tree doesn't dry out and that it's away from heat sources so it doesn't catch fire. (Christina Thompson, NewsChannel 12 photo)

Picking out the perfect Christmas tree is a highlight of the Christmas season. But Onslow County Fire Marshall Brian Kelly warns there's more to picking out the perfect tree than the way it looks.

You need to know a tree inside your home is in a safe spot. Kelly gives tips for setting up your Christmas tree:

Make sure you're keeping fire safety in mind. Cut about two inches off the base of the trunk as soon as you get home. This will make sure the tree is able to drink up as much water as it needs. “When we look at Christmas trees from a fire safety standpoint, the most important thing is to have a fresh tree that is well-hydrated," said Horticulture Agent with Cooperative Extension Onslow County Lisa Rayburn. A dry tree poses a much higher risk of catching on fire than a green one.

Place the tree far away from any heat sources like fireplaces or heaters. The National Fire Protection Association said two out of every five decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source.

Kelly's final tip is to shop local. He advises going to a trusted tree farmer so you know how your tree was treated before you bought it.

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