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Keep safety in mind when selecting a tree for the holidays

Danville and Boyle County residents are being urged to use caution when selecting their trees this holiday season.

Danville-Boyle County Emergency Management Director Mike Wilder said with Christmas approaching, it’s important for people to be aware of the dangers that can arrive, too.

“We always have safety on our minds,” he said.

He offered a few tips for those selecting live trees:

• When buying the tree, have the vendor make a fresh cut an inch from the trunk bottom, to help the tree absorb water.

• If you buy the tree early and keep it outside, keep it stored away from the wind and sun and keep the trunk bottom in a bucket of water.

• Do not buy a tree that is dry and dropping needles. Check for freshness by loosely gripping the end of a branch and pulling your hand over it. Only a few needles should fall off.

• Make sure your tree stand holds plenty of water and do not let it run out.

• Make sure the tree is centered and not wobbly; ensure the bolts or screws are securely fastened.

• Do not keep the tree after the holiday, especially if it has started to drop needles.

For those who opt for the artificial trees, it’s important to make sure it is flame retardant, he said.

No matter what kind of tree it is, always keep it at least three feet from furnaces, radiators and fireplaces and don’t block exits. Use caution with the lights placed on the tree: never use frayed lights and unplug the tree before going to bed. Only use lights that have been certified for outdoor use outside.

Keep a close eye on children, as many ornaments and decorations are small, can be sharp or breakable, and can be swallowed.

Keeping safety on the mind can make a difference this holiday season, Wilder said.

Follow Kendra Peek on Twitter, @knpeek.