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How not to bring your Christmas tree home. (And tips from AAA on how to do it right.) | TribLIVE.com
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How not to bring your Christmas tree home. (And tips from AAA on how to do it right.)

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Slinging a Douglas fir, Blue spruce or another tree of choice on the roof of your car and holding on through an open window or sunroof isn’t a wise or recommended way of getting an evergreen from the sales lot to your living room.

Mishaps from not properly securing a holiday tree for transport can cause vehicle damage, dangerous road debris and costly fines, Pittsburgh-based AAA East Central warns. Road debris — possibly in the form of a flyaway Christmas tree — causes more than 50,000 crashes resulting in about 10,000 injuries and 125 deaths each year, according to an analysis of four years of data by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

“There is no question that a real tree can add something special to your home during the holidays, but motorists need to take transporting them seriously,” Theresa Podguski, director of legislative affairs for AAA East Central, said in a statement. “Not only could you be putting other lives at risk, you could be setting yourself up for costly repairs to your own vehicle.”

What not to do

Suggestions from AAA on how you shouldn’t try to bring a tree home.

  • Don’t strap a tree down on top of a car without a roof rack, which could scratch the paint.
  • Don’t use lightweight twine, even if the lot or store offers it for free.
  • Don’t loop twine or rope through door jambs or open windows, which could damage door seals and window frames.
  • Don’t point the top of the tree towards the front of the vehicle, even if it seems more aerodynamic. It’s not.
  • Don’t drive fast, even though you might be excited to get the tree home as quickly as possible.

Do it right

AAA offers these recommendations for getting your tree home safely and without causing damage to your vehicle or others:

  • Use a vehicle with a roof rack, the bed of a pickup truck or, if possible, an SUV, van or minivan that can fit the entire tree inside with the doors closed.
  • Get the tree netted, if possible, or tie down floppy branches.
  • Put an old blanket under the tree to keep it from scratching the vehicle.
  • Point the bottom of the tree towards the front of the vehicle.
  • Use strong rope or nylon ratchet straps to secure the tree to the roof rack.
  • Tie the tree down in at least three places: bottom, center and top. And loop around the trunk above a lower branch to help prevent it from slipping side to side or front to back.
  • Tug on the tree to make sure it is secure. (Seems simple enough.)
  • Drive slow. Take back roads over highways, if possible.

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