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Real Christmas trees can be a real fire hazard, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service says

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is warning Winnipeggers about the fire hazards of real Christmas trees. Callum Smith / Global News

With early, and  brisk sales of Christmas trees reported this year, Winnipeggers are being reminded to take precautions to keep the risk of fire low over the holidays.

Leigh Gruener from the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service says the dangers of Christmas tree fires are heightened the longer a tree is set up in a home.

Read more: ‘People just want to feel normal’: Christmas trees selling like crazy in Winnipeg

“It’s very important to keep those trees hydrated, meaning we need to put water in them daily and be checking it constantly to make sure that it’s not drying out,” Gruener told Global Winnipeg News Morning this week.

As well as making sure a tree doesn’t get too dry, Gruener says it’s important to keep trees away from heat sources like vents on floors and ceilings, space heaters, candles, and fireplaces.

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She said the WFPS recommends keeping trees at least three feet away from any heat source.

“Anything that provides heat can start a fire,” she said, adding it’s also important to make sure the wiring on Christmas lights are in good shape, as well as any electrical cords near the tree.

“Before you put your lights on … make sure that you are checking all the cords first, looking for frays, any cuts, any pinches.

“Also you want to check the bulbs, making sure that they’re tight in there.”

Gruener says it’s also a good idea to make sure tree lights are unplugged when you’re not around.

“Even though we love looking at those lights we want to make sure that we unplug them when we’re not home or when we’re going to sleep at night,” she said.

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Last week, Global News reported nurseries across the city were telling customers they are sold out of fresh trees, or had only a handful left.

Susan Stubbe of Jensen’s Nursery said trees were already scarce to begin with before the rush from consumers.

Read more: Christmas trees become scarce across Winnipeg

The reasons range from drought and recession in the U.S. a decade ago to wildfires, she said.

For those lucky enough to have gotten a tree this year, Gruener said the city will once again be offering free Let’s Chip In tree recycling program starting Dec. 27.

“To know when your tree’s lifespan is over, just simply run your hand along the needles, if the needles fall off you know your tree is dried out,” she said.

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–With files from Corey Callaghan

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