GRAFTON—Those buying a real tree this year for the Christmas season need to make sure that they are following safety guidelines.
According to research done by AAA, an estimated 84 million Americans will choose a real tree this year. The same research shows that most will transport those trees in an unsafe method.
“There is no question that a real tree can add something special to your home during the holidays, but motorists need to take transporting them seriously,” said Theresa Podguski, director of legislative affairs for AAA East Central. “Not only could you be putting other lives at risk, you could be setting yourself up for costly repairs to your own vehicle.”
To ensure that trees are being transported safely make sure to follow these handy tips from AAA.
AAA Tips for Safely Securing a Holiday Tree:
Use the right vehicle. It’s best to transport a holiday tree on top of a vehicle equipped with a roof rack. However, if you do not have a roof rack, use the bed of a pickup truck, or an SUV, van or minivan that can fit the tree inside with all doors closed.
Use quality tie downs. Bring strong rope or nylon ratchet straps to secure the tree to your vehicle’s roof rack. Avoid the lightweight twine offered by many tree lots.
Protect the tree. Have the tree wrapped in netting before loading it. If netting is unavailable, secure loose branches with rope or twine.
Protect your vehicle. Use an old blanket to prevent paint scratches and protect the vehicle finish.
Point the trunk towards the front. Always place the tree on a roof rack or in a pickup bed with the bottom of the trunk facing the front of the vehicle.
Tie it down. Secure the tree at its bottom, center and top. At the bottom, use fixed vehicle tie-down points and loop around the trunk above a lower branch, to prevent any side-to-side or front-to-rear movement. The center and top tie downs should be installed in a similar manner.
Give it the tug test. Before you leave the lot, give the tree several strong tugs from various directions to make sure it is secured in place and will not blow away.
Drive slowly and easily. Take the back roads, if possible. Higher speeds create significant airflow that can damage your Holiday tree and challenge even the best tie-down methods.
Once the tree has arrived home, Dave McGill, forest resources specialist and professor, WVU Extension Service, has some tips for home safety, “Once you get the tree home, slice the trunk of the tree again just to make sure it’s a fresh cut. Stand it up in your stand; make sure it’s real stable. You also want to make sure you water it every day – that’s the critical thing. When you’re decorating the tree, that’s a good time to think about safety because you’re going to put electrical lights on it. Another thing about tree safety is where you position it in the first place. You don’t want to put it by heaters or too close to a fire source or an open flame, like a stove or an open fireplace, so that it doesn’t dry out and become a fire hazard.”
Having a live tree adds a lovely aroma to a house, is pleasing to the eye and can be recycled so it’s a wonderful choice for any holiday home. Just make sure to follow these safety tips, and enjoy all the joy that a live Christmas tree can bring.