What to Know Before You Buy Your Christmas Tree

KCCI.com

Members of the Iowa Christmas Tree Growers Association load Christmas trees onto a FedEx truck for the �Trees for Troops� program at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa Tuesday Nov. 27, 2012. �Trees for Troops� delivers real Christmas trees to military families at more than 60 military bases overseas and in the United States. This is the program�s 7th year and it is expected to collect and deliver between 17,000 and 20,000 trees nationwide. Iowa growers will be donating 80 trees. (AP Photo/The Des Moines Register, David Purdy) MAGS OUT, TV OUT, NO SALES, MANDATORY CREDIT

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By Aaron Hepker

DES MOINES, Iowa — If you're buying a real Christmas tree this year, some rules about watering it could make all the difference in preventing a fire -- and you need to start the moment you cut the tree.

Iowa fire experts set up a demonstration Monday to show you how important daily watering and proper care really are.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety harvested two fir trees from an Iowa tree farm near Indianola three weeks ago.

One they cut and ignored for the three weeks and the other they watered daily and followed other quick tips to keep it fire resistant.

Monday, firefighters at the State Fire Marshal's Office then loaded two rooms with standard living room furniture to test how fire hungry the trees would be.

Crews said even they were surprised with how quickly the tree that was not watered properly caught on fire and burned. It took just 20 seconds for the tree to catch fire and become completely engulfed.

The other tree was much more of a challenge to even get some small branches to burn. It was easier to catch the surrounding furniture on fire in the demonstration room than the tree that was properly watered.

"The winter season is when we have the most structure fires in Iowa," said State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds. "Take a little extra time to be fire smart this year."

Here are the top 8 tips that experts said you need to follow to keep your tree safe this season:

1. Put your tree in water a couple hours max after cutting

2. Don't put extras in water like syrup or sugar

3. Use warm water first and then hot water for all future waterings

4. Water daily!

5. Use a tree stand with a large water reservoir -- bigger the better

6. Turn off furnace registers near your tree to prevent trying out

7. Move away from windows to prevent drying out

8. Check lights for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps... before adding them each year.

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