NFPA encourages prompt removal and disposal of Christmas trees

Nearly 40 percent of Christmas tree home fires occur in January

December 29, 2014 – The gifts have been opened, the ornaments are starting to sag, and the fallen pine needles are multiplying daily – these are clear signs that it’s time to remove the Christmas tree and other holiday decorations from your home. 

“Christmas trees are flammable objects. The longer they’re in your home, the more they dry out, making them a significant fire hazard,” said Lorraine Carli, the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) vice president of Outreach and Advocacy.  

NFPA statistics show that nearly 40 percent of home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January. Although these fires aren’t common, when they do occur, they’re more likely to be serious. On average, one of every 40 reported home structure Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, as compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home structure fires. 

While many people choose to keep their Christmas trees and holiday decorations up for a few weeks after the holidays, the continued use of seasonal lighting and dried-out trees after the holidays presents increased fire risks. 


Video: NFPA encourages prompt removal of Christmas trees after the holidays, as nearly 40 percent of U.S. Christmas tree fires occur in January.

“Our hope is that once people understand the fire hazards associated with Christmas trees, particularly as they continue to dry out over time, they’ll choose to remove them promptly,” said Carli. 

When people do dispose of their trees, NFPA recommends using the local community’s recycling program, if available. They should not be put in the garage or left outside.  

In addition, NFPA offers these tips and recommendations for safely removing electrical lights and decorations from Christmas trees, and ensuring that they’re in good condition for the following year: 

  • When unplugging electrical decorations, use the gripping area on the plugs. Never pull the cord to unplug a device from an electrical outlet. (Doing so can harm the cord’s wire and insulation, which can lead to an electrical fire or shock.)
  • As you put 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. 
  • Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags, or wrap the lights around a piece of cardboard.
  • Store electrical decorations away from children and pets, and put them in a dry place where they won’t be damaged by water or dampness.

For additional resources and information for a fire-safe winter season, visit “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires” , NFPA’s campaign with the United States Fire Administration (USFA).  

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. NFPA develops more than 300 codes and standards to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other hazards. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed at no cost at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess

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Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275