O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, you give us so much pleasure! But first you have to successfully get it up in its stand, keep it from toppling over due to curious or clumsy pets and make sure it doesn't cause a fire.

“On an average day during the holiday season, there are ten tree fires somewhere in the United States,” says John Drengenberg, consumer safety director at UL. “That may not seem like a lot, unless of course it's in your house.”

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Follow these tips for setting up your Tannenbaum.

Pick the right spot. Set up your tree at least three feet away from fireplaces, radiators, candles, lights, vents and other sources of heat, according to the National Fire Protection Association . About one in four tree fires happens because they're too close to a heat source.

Make sure it isn't blocking a hallway, doorway or other exit route. “In the event of a tree fire, you want to get out of the house very quickly , because trees tend to burn fast,” says Drengenberg. (Of course, in the event of any kind of fire, you should get out of the house quickly.)

If you have small children or pets, position it in in a corner, then block it off with a baby gate or other barrier.

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Mount it properly. “A large tree stand is the best thing you can do to prevent the tree from tipping over,” says Drengenberg. “Some people like to wire it to a hook in the the wall.”

Use a stand wide enough to accommodate the trunk. Don't whittle down the trunk to make it fit because its outer layers absorb water better than its inner layers, according to the National Christmas Tree Association .

The stand should be able to hold one quart of water for every inch of the trunk's diameter. So, if your trunk is five inches wide, you'll need a five-quart stand or larger.

Keep it moist. “The most important safety tip is to make sure that the tree stand has water in it throughout the holiday season,” says Drengenberg. “Your tree will absorb an enormous amount in the first few days that it's in your house.”

Here's how to make sure you tree is adequately hydrated:

  • On the day you put up the tree, check the water level every two hours. Thereafter, check it daily.
  • If you have to delay mounting the tree for a few days, take it outside and place it in a bucket of water.
  • If the trunk doesn't fit all the way to the bottom of the stand, keep enough water in it to rise above the bottom of the trunk.
  • Don't drill holes in the side of the trunk. It won't help with water absorption.

If you buy your tree early in the season and bring it into the house later, cut an inch or two off the bottom to provide a new cut that will enhance water absorption before you set it up. Staying outside for long periods of time will cause the cut on the base to dry up and not absorb water. The new cut just before you bring it inside will open a pathway for water, which is an important safety measure.

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Recycle it promptly. “No matter how well you keep the tree watered, on average they will last only about four weeks,” says Drengenberg. “If you put up a tree just after Thanksgiving, take it down right after Christmas.”

Four weeks is only a guideline, he adds. The time can vary based on a variety of factors, such as the room's temperature, humidity and air flow, plus how well you keep it watered.

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David Arv Bragi is a freelance journalist and marketing consultant. He has been writing about health and safety issues since the 1990s and currently lives in Portland, Oregon.