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16 Tips to Avoid a Holiday Decorating Disaster This Season

By: Robert DiGiacomo

Your holiday wish list almost certainly doesn't include a trip to the hospital. Get our tips to help you trim the tree, light up the house and relax by an open fire, without having to worry about injuries to you, the kids or your pets.

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Tree Buying 101

Before buying a live Christmas tree, conduct a three-part stress test, recommends Stacey Palosky, a spokesperson with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. A fresh tree has needles that resist being pulled off and do not snap when bent, a trunk bottom that's sticky with resin, and strong limbs that will drop just a few needles if shaken.

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Christmas Trees Can't Take the Heat

Don't position a live Christmas tree next to fireplaces, heating ducts or radiators, nor place them where they block doorways or high-traffic areas. Remember that artificial trees, even if they have a "Fire Resistant" label, can still go up in flames, too, Palosky says.

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Hang Ornaments With Extra Care

Keep child and pet safety in mind by placing unbreakable and non-toxic ornaments on the lowest areas of the Christmas tree, recommends the celebrity holiday decorating team of Dr. Christmas, aka Bob Pranga and Debi Staron. Replace metal hooks with ribbon or string to prevent choking and injury.

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Photo: Shutterstock/pryzmat

Have You Watered Your Tree Lately?

A dry tree will burn faster than one that's been watered, according to John Drengenberg, consumer safety director at Underwriters Lab, an independent safety science company. Check the water level of your tree daily and keep it in a vessel that can hold an adequate water supply. To test to see if your tree is sufficiently hydrated, give a branch a gentle tug and see if any needles break, he says.

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