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The National Fire Protection Association reports about 160 Christmas tree fires a year.

AUSTIN, Texas — Putting up the Christmas tree in your home can be a special holiday tradition, but it can turn south quickly.

“It could be pretty catastrophic if fire got to a dry tree,” said Pflugerville Fire Department Battalion Chief Heath Doyle.

The National Fire Protection Association said it reports about 160 Christmas tree fires a year. During the previous reporting period, it was about 400 tree fires.

“It has come down quite a bit, and I can only assume it’s because of the fake versus natural trees,” Doyle said.

But Doyle said it’s still important to keep any open flames like candles and fireplaces away from your tree. He said you also want to avoid using extension cords and make sure you only link the suggested amount of string lights together.

“We start adding additional lighting and all the things that make Christmas fun, then we, you know, we increase those chances of something happening through electrical overload,” Doyle said.

He says the most important tip of all is making sure your smoke detectors are working, not just during the holiday season, but also year-round.

“That is the best tool that you can have in your house to save your life in the event of a fire,” Doyle said.

Doyle also suggests picking a tree with the freshest pines so it doesn’t become more of a hazard as it sits in your house, especially if you plan to leave it up after Christmas. The fire department recommends taking it down quickly after Christmas to minimize fire risk.

When it comes to watering the tree, Doyle said it should be done every single day.

“Every day that tree’s not in its natural state, you know, roots in the ground, it’s really a dying process,” Doyle said. “It’s decaying slowly over time.”

They are also warning people about holiday decorating safety. The Pflugerville Fire Department said it usually sees a few calls a year of people falling off their roof.

Some of it could be overconfidence in their abilities, misjudging the strength or the condition of a ladder, how high something is,” Doyle said. “You know, ‘I’m just going to reach a little bit further to finish putting this thing up rather than get down and move it over.’”

They say it’s best to hire a professional decorating company that is licensed and insured, so your holidays don’t turn into a nightmare.

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