O holy holiday cleanup


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It’s 2012, so say au revoir to the holidays, and to the decorations. And unless you’re among those folks who keep their tree and lights up for next December, it’s just about time to pack up the festivities.

And let me recommend doing just that. Because keeping up some of your decorations can actually be a danger to your home.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are more home structure fires in the colder months.

“It’s not uncommon to see residents keeping lights and Christmas trees up past December,” said Lorraine Carli, VP communications for the NFPA, in a press release. “The reality is, continued use of seasonal lighting and dried-out Christmas trees can pose significant fire hazards in and outside the home.”

From 2005 to 2009, holiday lights were involved in an annual average of 150 home fires, eight civilian deaths, 14 related injuries and $8.5 million in direct property damage.

So as you watch the pine needles fall from your finely decorated tree and the holiday lights start to flicker, keep these storage and removal tips from the NFPA in mind as you begin the New Year.

• Lose the Christmas tree once it begins to dry out. Dried trees should not be kept in your home, garage or outside against your home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program.

• Use the gripping area on plugs to unplug electric decorations. Don’t pull the cord to unplug a device from electrical outlets, or you may do damage to the cord’s wire and insulation, which could lead to an electrical shock or fire.

• As you put away electrical light strings, 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.

• 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, and keep them away from children and pets.

Any other safe holiday storage tips I missed? Sound off below.