Take care with decorations

Published 8:28 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Christmas holiday may be over, but the decorations sitting around your house may still present a fire hazard.

The National Fire Protection Association says the post-holiday season presents its own challenges for fire prevention, as Christmas trees dry out and lighting decorations may be getting frayed or damaged.

Residents with real Christmas trees in their homes should monitor them carefully and get rid of them as soon as they show signs they are dried.

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“As time goes by, Christmas trees continue to dry out and become increasingly flammable,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for NFPA. “For trees decorated with holiday lights, the risk increases because they’re in direct contact with an electrical source. Once you start to see more (needles) fall, the tree is no longer fresh, and it’s time to get rid of it.”

Trees should not be kept in the garage or near the outside of the home, Carli said in a press release.

Suffolk’s Department of Public Works will pick up trees and boxes through Jan. 8 without counting them against the 12 free special collections allowed each residence throughout the year. Trees and boxes placed outside after Jan. 8 will still be collected but will count toward the allowable collections.

Trees and boxes should be placed at the curb on the same day as the residence’s regular trash collection. Trees do not have to be secured, and boxes do not have to be collapsed.

Trees are taken to the landfill, because the city does not have a mulching facility.

Lighting is another decoration that causes house fires during the holidays, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

To reduce the risk of holiday light fires and keep your decorations in good condition for next year, follow these suggestions:

  • To unplug electric decorations, use the gripping area provided on the plugs. Never pull the cord to unplug a device from electrical outlets. Doing so can harm the cord’s wire and insulation and even lead to an electrical shock or fire.
  • 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, and keep them away from children and pets.