64ºF

Here’s how to safely dispose of your Christmas tree, other holiday decor

Officials recommend quickly disposing of trees to avoid fire risks

ORLANDO, Fla. – The holidays are coming to an end, which means the Christmas trees, stockings and other holiday decor will soon come down until it’s time to do it again next year.

If you’re not ready to part with them just yet, that’s fine. Taylor Swift says we can keep the Christmas lights up until January, but after that, it just gets dangerous.

In fact, more than 29% of home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

When you do decide to take the tree down and kick off the new year, Florida officials want you to know the right way of doing it.

“A live Christmas tree can go up in flames in an instant, so it’s critical that you remove your tree and store your decorations quickly after the holidays," Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said.

Before anything else, Patronis recommends you safely remove all lighting and make sure there aren’t any broken bulbs when you pack the lights up and prepare to store the lights in a dry place.

Once you’ve packed up anything you plan to keep for next year, get rid of any live trees or disposable decorations-- but do it safely.

“It’s important to keep your live trees and other disposable decorations away from your home while awaiting trash pickup,” Patronis said. "Always remember that dried wood and pine needles can be a fire hazard.”

Not sure where to put your tree or lights once you’re done using them?

Patronis offered the following four tips to safely store and dispose of any holiday items:

  • Check for local disposal programs. Many communities offer a Christmas tree recycling program and have specific drop off locations or procedures for disposal. You may be able to leave it at the curb at your typical yard waste or bulk collection day. It's best to check with your local authorities for details.
  • Do not store your tree in the home or garage. A dry tree can pose a serious fire risk when left in a garage or carport. Do not place your tree against the home before disposal.
  • Use caution when burning a tree. Do not burn your Christmas tree without checking with your local community for their open burn regulations. As with any fire, always keep a fire extinguisher close.
  • Check lights and decorations before storing them. 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. Store electrical decorations in a dry place away from children and pets where they will not be damaged by water or dampness. This can save you from accidentally creating electrical hazards for next year.

About the Author: