(COLORADO SPRINGS) — A report by the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®) indicates that one-third of U.S. home fires involving Christmas trees happen in the month of January. With that in mind, the NFPA® is encouraging everyone to dispose of Christmas trees promptly after the holiday season.

According to a report by NFPA®, 33% of Christmas tree fires happened in the month of January.

“The longer a natural tree is kept up after Christmas, the more likely it is to dry out and ignite,” said NFPA®.

NFPA® said each year between 2016 and 2020 there were 160 home structure fires that began with Christmas trees, resulting in two civilian deaths, 11 civilian injuries, and $12 Million in property damage.

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® shares tips for removing lighting and decorations to ensure 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 of 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.

NFPA® promoted along with the U.S. Fire Administration an annual winter safety campaign called “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires.”

More information about fire safety can be found on NFPA®’s website.