Tips for getting your Christmas tree home safely

WASHINGTON — Picking out the right Christmas tree can be a lot of fun for a family, but failing to secure it correctly to your car during the ride home can prove dangerous to the people transporting it and others on the road.

“They can fly off the car when you’re driving them home, unless you tie them down securely,” said John Townsend with AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Over the past four years, 500 people have died in accidents involving debris in the road, which included Christmas trees.

Townsend said you should first select the right car for the job such as an SUV, minivan or pickup truck in which the tree will fit with the doors closed. Other options include cars with racks on top.

“Drivers should never secure a Christmas tree to the top of a vehicle without a roof rack,” said Greg Brannon, director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relation with AAA.

According to Brannon, twine wrapped through door jams or open windows can cause serious damage to the car’s door seals and window frames.

Before placing the tree on the car, make sure all loose branches are secured and consider using a blanket to protect the finish of the car.

Once the tree is ready, place it trunk facing forward onto the top the vehicle and attach it with ratchet straps or strong rope.

“Use the basic knots that you learned when you were a Boy Scout or Girl Scout,” Townsend said.

The tree should be centered on the car and secured at its bottom, center and top. Anyone unsure about how to secure the tree should ask professionals at the tree lot for help.

When the tree is on the car, give it a few good tugs.

“If it’s moving about or it’s loose, then those are telltale signs that this tree may fly off the car,” Townsend said

Townsend said drivers need to remember that when you pull off the lot, the drivers are liable for any damages. When transporting the tree home, drivers should take back roads, and drive slow and easy.

“You don’t want to be on the Beltway going at highway speeds because that can be potentially dangerous,” Townsend said.

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