Holidays are over, remove those Christmas trees safely now

Now that the holiday season is over, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) encourages people to remove Christmas trees from their homes.

Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy, spoke on proper removal saying, "All Christmas trees can burn, but a dried-out tree can become engulfed in flames in a matter of seconds. In a year where many people began decorating their homes earlier than usual, trees have been in homes longer than usual, presenting an increased fire risk as the days go by."

Because some Christmas tree fires occur in chimneys or flues, which suggests that people may burn the tree to dispose of it, the U.S. Forest Service offers this caution:

"Never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or woodstove," Carli said. "Pines, firs, and other evergreens have a high content of flammable turpentine oils, and burning the tree may contribute to creosote buildup and risk a chimney fire."

According to the report by the NFPA, fires that begin with Christmas trees are a very small but notable part of the U.S. fire problem, considering that they are generally in use for a short time each year.

To safely dispose of a Christmas tree, NFPA recommends using the local community’s recycling program, if possible; trees should not be put in the garage or left outside. The association also offers these tips for safely removing lighting and decorations and storing them properly to ensure that they’re in good condition the following season:

  • Use the gripping area on the plug when unplugging electrical decorations. Never pull the cord to unplug any device from an electrical outlet, as this can harm the wire and insulation of the cord, increasing the risk for shock or electrical fire.
  • As you pack up light strings, inspect each line for damage, throwing out any sets that have loose connections, broken sockets, or cracked or bare wires.
  • Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags or wrap them around a piece of cardboard.
  • Store electrical decorations in a dry place away from children and pets where they will not be damaged by water or dampness.

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For more information visit "Put a Freeze on Winter Fires," a winter safety campaign NFPA promotes annually with the U.S. Fire Administration.


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