CPSC warns about Christmas tree dangers

HOUSTON - Safety officials want to warn people that along with joy, the holidays can bring tragedy as well.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said each November and December, thousands of people are injured, dozens die and millions of dollars in property are lost as a result of falls, fires and other incidents associated with holiday decorations.

The agency said consumers should follow a few tips when buying and handling trees and decorations.

In a video demonstration, the agency showed that it only takes a matter of seconds for a Christmas tree to become fully engulfed in flames if ignited by lights with electrical problems.

Officials warn consumers to beware of broken or counterfeit lights. Consumers should look for a label or marking of a recognized testing organization, such as "Underwriters Laboratories," to make sure the lights meet current safety standards.

"Check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed wires or loose connections. Do not use damaged sets on your tree," said Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Tenenbaum had several tips for buying a Christmas tree.

"Check for freshness," said Tenenbaum. "The needles won't break in your hand or between your fingers."

Tenenbaum said when you tap the tree on the ground, the tree shouldn't lose needles on a green tree. She said to also keep your stand filled with water.

"When you set the tree up in your home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators," Tenenbaum said.

It's also a good idea to check your smoke detectors to make sure the batteries are fresh and it's functioning properly.

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