If you’re having trouble parting with your Christmas tree, here’s a fact to motivate you: One-third (33 percent) of U.S. home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January. With this potential fire hazard in mind, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) strongly encourages everyone to remove Christmas trees from their homes promptly after the holiday season.
We have had little rain and a lot of Santa Ana dry winds drying Christmas trees out faster than normal. Its important to dispose of them sooner than later.
On annual average, one of every 45 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to one death per 139 total reported home structure fires.
NFPA recommends using the local community’s recycling program for tree disposal, 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.
Sam DiGiovanna is a 35-year fire service veteran. He started with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, served as Fire Chief at the Monrovia Fire Department and currently serves as Chief at the Verdugo Fire Academy in Glendale.