One of the favorite holiday traditions of course, is picking out the family Christmas tree. But with an average of about 200 structure fires caused by Christmas trees in the U.S. every year, it's important to take necessary measures to keep your home safe. Ivan Rossinskiy is getting ready to celebrate his second Christmas in the United States. For him, picking out the family Christmas tree is the highlight of the holiday season. “(I chose) this Christmas tree, because it's tall, it's going to fit in my apartment, and it's not too wide, because I like a skinny tree," said Rossinskiy. But size and shape are not the only characteristics to factor in when you are picking out the perfect pine. Before you strap it on your car, and fill it with lights and decorations - take steps to ensure your tree doesn't light up in flames. Fire and life safety educator Meg Langston has some tips: "Go by and find a branch on the tree and run your fingers down the branch. If you have many needles that are falling off, then that tree is not as fresh, and that's not a tree you're going to want to take home," she said. "You want to take the needle and bend it. If it bends easily, then that's a needle that's still fresh. If when you break that needle, it breaks in two or it snaps, then that usually means the tree's a little bit drier." Once you pick out the tree, ask for a fresh cut to help the tree absorb water. A typical six foot Christmas tree drinks about a gallon of water a day. Don't let it dry out, or it'll be easier to catch fire. Nearly half of all Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems. So whether it is an artificial or live tree, check the lights before you string them. Langston added, “Make sure that each year, you inspect the cords of your Christmas tree lights to make sure they're not frayed or worn, you don't have any bulbs that are blown or broken. That's another way that Christmas tree fires start." Once the season is over, remember to dispose of your tree properly. Many people think trees make great firewood. But in reality, because they've gotten so dried out, they can actually spark easily and cause a fire. So the best thing to do is recycle your tree. "There are all different things they do with recycling trees. Sometimes they actually put them in ponds to use them as fish beds, and that sort of thing," added Langston.
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