As the tide of Yule engulfs us once again, I would like to take a moment to deliver a belated reminder: It is very important to properly care for the sacrificed fir you may recently have taken on as a roommate. Said tree was dead upon arrival in your apartment, but since you forgot to water it for days in a row, maybe it's taken on a disconcerting sickly look. Maybe it's shedding needles left and right, its branches curling in on themselves as if a decorative genius had set them in rollers. Constant vigilance, Christmas comrade, lest you inadvertently build a tinder mountain inside the tissue box you call home.
Local fire and arboreal experts recently advised CBS 2 that tree owners need to cut the bottom off trees before plunking them in water—a quarter of water per inch of trunk diameter, FYI. Also, you'll want to be conscious of placement, because situating your tree in a hot spot (near a window, the radiator, or if you're fancy, a working fireplace) can escalate dryness. Proximity to an aggressive heat source can also work like a balled-up strand of lights on parched branches, torching your beautiful pagan pine in seconds. An annual average of four people died from Christmas tree fires between 2012 and 2016, with $12 million accrued in property damage each year. Typically, all this tragedy came from flames or heat sources placed too close to underwatered trees.
As demonstrated in this controlled fire experiment by the National Fire Protection Association, the flames are merciless and can consume an entire room within 30 seconds.
Unconvinced? Watch this suddenly sparked inferno hit the ceiling within four seconds. By the half-minute marker, the room is just a cloud of black smoke underpinned by an angry orange blaze.
Or why not revisit this old chestnut, which I'm pretty sure my father once emailed me in response to an offhand remark about my extremely tentative plans to maybe get a Christmas tree. Classic dad move.
As you will see, an unwatered Christmas tree stands a much better chance of sending your home up in smoke than a watered one does.
Both will ignite, but a hydrated tree will give you more time to grab the fire extinguisher before turning you into a human Yule log.
Also! It is important to keep your Christmas tree refreshed so that when you throw its tired bones on the curb come January, it does not combust when a passerby flicks their cigarette on its brittle corpse. The threat of Christmas tree fires does not pass with the holiday season, friend.
So if you plan to leave town this weekend and you will be leaving a lonely conifer behind, please: Water your miniature Shelby, for all our sakes. And unplug the lights! Merry Christmas, let's light that tree!