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National Fire Organization: It's Time to Take Down the Tree

Nearly 40 percent of home fires that began with Christmas trees occurred in January, according to experts.

Experts show how quickly a Christmas tree can catch fire in a controlled display.|Credit: Jenni Pompi
Experts show how quickly a Christmas tree can catch fire in a controlled display.|Credit: Jenni Pompi
By Kym Byrnes 

Do you procrastinate taking down the Christmas tree? The National Fire Protection Agency recommends taking down the tree sooner than later. 

When most people think about the holidays, few consider the fact that these fun-filled winter months are the leading time for home fires according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Some people choose to keep Christmas trees up for a few weeks after the holiday. NFPA research shows that nearly 40 percent of homes fires that began with Christmas trees occurred in January.

“The longer they are in the home, the more dangerous they become. The continued use of seasonal lighting and dried-out trees can pose significant fire hazards in and outside the home,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for NFPA, in a statement. “Proper disposal of the tree from your home will minimize the risk and will keep the holiday a joyful one.”

Although these tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be fatal, according to NFPA. On average, one of every 40 reported home structure Christmas tree fires resulted in a death compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home structure fires.

To reduce the risk of holiday tree and light fires and to keep decorations in good condition for next year, you should also follow these suggestions:

  • As you’re putting away electrical light strings, take time to inspect each for damage. Throw out light sets if they have loose connections, broken sockets or cracked or bare wires.
  • Do not place a damaged set of lights back into the storage box for next year’s use.
  • Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags, or wrap the lights around a piece of cardboard.
  • Store electrical decorations in a dry place where they cannot be damaged by water or dampness. Also, keep them away from children and pets.

Find out how to recycle your tree in Anne Arundel County

For more preventative steps to take and simple rules to follow in order to prevent home fires during the holidays and beyond, check out NFPA’s “Project Holiday.”

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