BETPHAGE, Nassau County (WABC) -- Firefighters in Nassau County held an important demonstration on Thursday showing just how quickly dry Christmas trees can go up in flames.
Firefighters set up a realistic home and held a live, controlled, residential fire of a Christmas tree at the Nassau County V.E.E.B. Fire Service Academy in Bethpage.
During the demonstration, the dry tree caught fire and the rest of the room went up in flames, all in less than one minute.
Officials are hoping the results will encourage residents to exercise caution and keep fire safety in mind when decorating for the holidays.
On average, there are 200 Christmas tree fires every year across the country.
Officials also urged people to read the safety instructions on any new toys or items containing lithium-ion batteries.
"Not doing that, you could have a real tragedy. We're finding more and more problems with these things all of the time. Don't substitute chargers. If the toy stops working and is starting to get distressed, get rid of it," an official said.
Tips for preventing Christmas tree fires this holiday season:
- Make sure you choose a tree with green needles. If the needles look brown, that means the tree is dry and likely more flammable. Also give the tree a good shake -- if it loses a lot of needles, it's likely too dry. Trees don't burst into flames on their own, but when they are dry, it's a lot easier for them to catch fire.
- Real trees need to be kept moist and watered at all times. Make sure the water isn't too cold, which could shock the tree. Add nutrients to the water, like a fully dissolved tablespoon of sugar, to keep the tree healthy.
- Try using a humidifier to create extra humidity in the room where your tree is located to prevent the tree and its needles from drying out.
- Keep the tree several feet away from any fireplace or other open flames like a candle.
- Check the lights you use to decorate your tree. If they look worn out or have frayed wires or cracked lamps, it's time to get new lights.
- When you're not at home, turn off and unplug your Christmas lights. That also goes for when you're sleeping.
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