Millions of Americans will flock to tree lots across the country in search of the perfect Christmas tree. While finding just the right one may seem like the hard part – getting it home safely is where the real challenge begins. Just like moving furniture, appliances or other large objects, transporting a tree is no different. If not properly secured, a tree can cause vehicle damage such as scratched paint, torn door seals or distorted window frames. Even worse, it could fly off or out of the vehicle and become a danger to other drivers.
“While most commercial tree lots will have employees to assist you with safely securing your tree before you bring it home, as the vehicle owner you are responsible if the tree causes damage, so you should be familiar with the proper way to secure it,” said Pat Moody, manager of public affairs for AAA Northern New England.
Losing a Christmas tree on the drive home would no doubt put a damper on the holiday season. But, more importantly, a tree that comes loose from a vehicle could also cause an crash. The roads can be dangerous enough during the holiday season with increased congestion and winter weather conditions without the addition of flying Christmas trees. Luckily with a little preparation, the right tools and the right vehicle – transporting a Christmas tree is easy with these tips from AAA:
- Plan Ahead – before heading out to buy a real Christmas tree, make sure to bring strong rope or ratchet straps, an old blanket, gloves and of course – the right vehicle. One with a roof rack is ideal but a pickup truck, SUV, van or minivan can work just as well.
- Wrap & Cover It – once you’ve found the perfect tree, have the lot wrap it in netting before loading it. Loose branches can also be secured with rope or twine to help protect the tree from damage. Also, prior to loading the tree, cover the roof with an old blanket to prevent scratches to the paint and protect the car from any damage.
- Trunk First – place the tree on the roof rack or in the bed of the truck with the trunk facing the front of the car. If the vehicle does not have a roof rack and is large enough – place the tree inside.
- Secure It – tie down the tree at its bottom, center and top using strong rope or nylon ratchet straps. Avoid using the nylon offered by many tree lots. Use fixed vehicle tie-down points and loop the rope or strap around the tree trunk above a branch to prevent any side-to-side or front-to-rear movement.
- Tug Test – once tied down, give the tree several strong tugs from various angles to make sure it is secured in place and will not come loose.
- Nice & Easy – drive slowly and take back roads if possible. Higher speeds can create significant airflow that can damage your tree or challenge even the best tie-down methods.
Start your holiday season off right by getting your real Christmas tree home safely!
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 62 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services. Operating 18 offices throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, AAA Northern New England is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying corporation and serves as an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA Northern New England can be visited on the Intern