The State Fire Marshall says Missourians putting up their Christmas trees need to take a few simple steps to avoid fires. State Fire Marshal Randy Cole says it might surprise people just how fast a Christmas tree can go up in flames … especially if it’s dried out.

Cole says in addition to watering the tree and making sure it’s holding moisture, using lights properly can prevent accidental tree fires.

He says looking over the lights before re-using them is also a good idea since mice can get into them while they’re in storage and chew the insulation off the wires. And he says never leave decorative lights on, whether they’re on your tree or your house, if you’re not home.

He says candles and space heaters are leading causes for house fires, but says decorative lights can be a hazard as well, and a dried out live-cut tree can go up in less than seven seconds.

Cole is also asking families to go over their evacuation plans, and asks everyone to have a meeting place outside the home where everyone should meet once they’ve made it out in the event of a fire. Visit the State Fire Marshal’s website for information on how to formulate a plan.

AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports (1:11)