More than one-third of Christmas tree home fires occur in January

Special to the Banner-News

More than one-third (34 percent) of U.S. home fires involving Christmas trees occur in January. With this post-holiday fire hazard in mind, the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®) strongly encourages everyone to keep the festive memories and remove the hazards by disposing of Christmas trees promptly after the holiday season.

"As much as we all enjoy the look and feel of Christmas trees in our homes, they're large combustible items that have the potential to result in serious fires," said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at. "The longer Christmas trees remain in homes, the longer they present a risk."

Carli notes that fresh Christmas trees, which continue to dry out and become more flammable over time, are involved in a much larger share of reported Christmas tree fires than artificial trees.

According to the latest statistics from NFPA, there was an estimated annual average of 150 home structure fires that began with Christmas trees, resulting in one civilian death, 10 civilian injuries, and $14 million in direct property damage between 2017 and 2021. Overall, fires that begin with Christmas trees represent 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. NFPA also offers these tips for safely removing lighting and decorations to ensure that they remain in good condition:

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.

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

For this release and other announcements about NFPA initiatives, research, and resources, please visit the NFPA press room.

About the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®)

Founded in 1896, NFPA® is a global, self-funded, nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information, visit www.nfpa.org. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.

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