State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis reminded Floridians Monday that it’s time to chuck the Christmas tree.
In a news release, Patronis warned that an aging Christmas tree is a fire hazard. He stressed the longer a tree is kept, the dryer and more dangerous it can become.
“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,” Patronis said. “Make sure to safely remove lighting and check for any broken bulbs or wiring before storing them in a dry place. It’s important to keep your live trees and other disposable decorations away from your home while awaiting trash pickup. Always remember that dried wood and pine needles can be a fire hazard.”
Notably, more than 29% of home fires that begin with a Christmas tree happen in January, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
To avoid adding to that statistic, Patronis suggested Floridians check for local disposal programs. He noted communities often offer a Christmas tree recycling program with specific drop off locations and procedures.
Patronis, who doubles as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, also recommended Floridians check their lights and decorations prior to storage. Checking for damaged lights and loose connections can prevent an accident next year, Patronis said.
Additionally, Floridians should avoid storing their tree in the home or garage.
“A dry tree can pose a serious fire risk when left in a garage or carport,” Patronis warned. “Do not place your tree against the home before disposal.”
Earlier this month, Patronis and the Tallahassee Fire Department set a Christmas tree on fire to demonstrate how easily a dry tree can go ablaze.
The annual event is intended to raise awareness about potential fire dangers around the holidays.
Video of the demonstration can be found online.