Regional Christmas Tree Program: Fire Safety & Tree Watering Tips

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Young child pulling a cut Christmas treeThe Rocky Mountain Region manages 17 national forests and seven national grasslands throughout Colorado, Nebraska, along with most of South Dakota and Wyoming. Christmas tree cutting permits are generally available from most US Forest Service offices [PDF file 120KB] throughout the Rocky Mountain Region. Call the office of the closest Ranger District to the area you want to cut in to verify that they are offering Christmas tree cutting permits.
 
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CHRISTMAS TREE FIRE SAFETY & WATERING TIPS
 
Animated Christmas tree in tree standBetween 2003-2008, US fire departments responded to an average of 260 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 14 deaths, 26 injuries, and $13.8 million in direct property damage annually. Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they occur, they are likely to be serious. On average, one of every 21 reported fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in death.
 
REMEMBER, A WATERED TREE IS A SAFE TREE!
 
Using all the ingredients listed below, mix the "Fire-Retardant" solution in a bucket. Follow the directions below to help your tree remain wet during the time you enjoy it in your home.
 
CHRISTMAS TREE "FIRE-RETARDANT" SOLUTION
  • 2 gals. of hot water
  • 2 cups Karo syrup (corn syrup)
  • 2 oz. liquid bleach
  • 2 '2-finger' pinches Epsom salts
  • 1/2 cup borax (20 Mule Team is a popular brand)
  • 1 tsp. chelated iron (available at garden shops)
 
HOW DOES THE CHRISTMAS TREE "FIRE-RETARDANT" SOLUTION WORK?
 
Make a fresh cut across the bottom of the tree trunk (usually one inch is good) and place the tree in this solution until it comes into the house. Use this solution to fill the tree stand reservoir (it's a good idea to make another one inch cut at the bottom of the trunk, just before you put the tree into the stand for good). Fill the tree stand reservoir with the remaining solution right away so the pores in the tree trunk don't seal. This works well because the syrup provides sugar and it is only when sugar is present that trees will take in lots of water. The borax contains boron which helps the water get all the way through the tree system. The Epsom salts and iron assist in the process of keeping needles green and fresh while the bleach stops the mold from forming when sugar and water are combined.
 
A fresh tree will drink several GALLONS of water over the general 10-14 day period they are up in your home. You will need to check the water level several times a day to start with and always make sure there is water in the tree stand reservoir when you get up in the morning and before you go to bed at night. Always be sure to keep your tree away from heating stoves, space heaters and even televisions, because the heat from these electronics tends to dry out the tree.
 
HAVE A GREAT TIME AND BE SAFE!
 
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