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HOUSTON (KIAH) – As Christmas approaches, many people are putting up their tree if they haven’t already. There are some things families should know about real and artificial trees.

For most people, when they’re picking out a Christmas tree, they focus on how pretty it looks or how big it is instead of the safety hazards that come with each tree. The Houston Fire Department is providing local residents with Christmas tree safety tips this holiday season.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, about 44 percent of home fires caused by Christmas trees start with something electrical like lighting.

It’s recommended that you purchase in-door LED light bulbs. They emit less heat. You should plug your lights directly into an outlet and if you use a surge protector, no more than three lights are plugged in at once.

Here’s a quick tip for parents, buy shatter-proof lights and inspect your lights for exposed wiring. For artificial trees, safety officials recommend replacing them every 3 to five years.

More importantly, for real trees, firefighters recommend choosing the “freshest” one. Upon purchase, cut two inches from the bottom and water it daily.

“it’s really bright green and the needles are really tight. Which is what we want to encourage the public to look for when they’re picking their tree. You want to make sure it’s really green and when you pull on the needles that they don’t flake off or fall off when you’re touching it,” said Martee Boose, Public Information Officer for the Houston Fire Department.

Christmas trees can catch on fire in seconds. You should keep it away from flammable items like candles and fireplaces. If it goes up in flames, evacuate immediately and call 911.

Make sure you have a working smoke detector in your home. If you don’t have one, contact the Houston Fire Department.