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KFD urges residents to dispose of cut Christmas trees

From staff reports • Jan 1, 2016 at 11:45 PM

KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Fire Department and the National Fire Protection Association are urging area residents to dispose of cut Christmas trees and safely remove lights and cords.

By this time, with gifts removed from underneath, the tree is swiftly losing its coat of green, and the needles are piling up on the floor. That means it’s time to remove the tree from your home, according to a press release from the KFD.

The following information is from that release:

• Christmas trees are very flammable, become drier the longer they remain in the home, and can be consumed by fire in a matter of seconds.

• All trees can burn, though dry ones can be engulfed by flames significantly more quickly.

• NFPA statistics indicate that nearly 40 percent of home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January.

• Although these fires are not common, they are much more likely to be serious when they do occur. On average, one of every 31 reported home structure Christmas tree fires resulted in a death. Compare that to an average of one death per 144 total reported home structure fires.

• Christmas trees are decorations, and people may want to continue the festive spirit and leave up their ever-drying pines long after the last of the gifts have been opened. But the longer the tree remains in the home, the greater the fire risk becomes.

• Trees should not be put in the garage or left outside near the home. In Kingsport, residents can place their trees curbside for pickup.

The NFPA also offers tips on removing lighting and decorations from trees to ensure they are taken down safely this year and remain in the right condition for Christmas 2016:

• 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 for shock or electrical fire.

• As you pack up light strings, inspect each line for damage and throw 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.

The goal of the KFD and NFPA, according to the release, is to raise awareness about the extreme fire hazards and to prompt people to remove their trees in a timely manner and give their families the gift of fire safety as the season winds down.

For additional resources and information for a fire-safe winter season, visit “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires” at www.NFPA.org.