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Christmas trees bring a fire danger into your home

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - For many families, the day after Thanksgiving is a time to set up their Christmas tree.

But sometimes that holiday tradition can bring danger into your home.

For people who still get real trees, it can create a very real fire danger that can have devastating effects.

“It's just a matter of literally seconds, it's amazing how quickly they can go up,” said Lt. Michael Ball from the Milwaukee Fire Department.

More than 200 house fires a year in the U.S. are caused by Christmas trees.

“If you have a very dry tree that's certainly a significant fire hazard in your home,” said Lt. Ball.

And the fire doesn't just stop at the end of the branches, it can spread to the rest of the house.

“It flares up pretty quickly, and obviously starts other things on fire in the home,” said Lt. Ball.

The American Red Cross is seeing a jump in house fires as we head into the holiday season.

They do every year, because of falling temperatures and more people entertaining.  They say heating devices and cooking accidents account for the bulk of their fires.

“Right now we're working on double the amount of fires that usually happen this time of year,” said Justin Kern from the American Red Cross.

They make sure they are extra prepared as they head into the holiday season.

But tree fire dangers are preventable.

One easy way, is to keep your tree watered.

“When you get it home, get it in water as soon as you can and the first several days it's amazing how much water the tree will drink, so it's important to check the tree daily and keep it watered,” said Lt. Ball.

But even a watered tree can burn if you're not mindful of what's around it.

“Obviously you don't want to be setting up the Christmas tree near the fire place or certainly any other heat source, whether it be space heaters, radiators, anything like that as well,” said Lt. Ball.

They also suggest only using lights made for Christmas trees and unplug them when you're not using them.

“When you are leaving the home or when you're going to bed at night, it's important to unplug those lights,” said Lt. Ball.

Simple things you can do to make sure your holiday remains a happy one.

“If you lose your house, that's a long road, it's not just the holiday times when someone is stressed, this is often a couple of month process to get back on your feet,” said Kern.

The fire department also stressed the importance of having working smoke detectors in your home, as well as working carbon monoxide detectors as least on the floor where you sleep.

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