OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The holidays are over, so the National Fire Protection Association says it is time to get rid of those old Christmas trees.

Officials say 30 percent of U.S. house fires involving Christmas trees occur in January.

“As much as we all enjoy the look and feel of Christmas trees in our homes, they’re large combustible items that have the potential to result in serious fires,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “The longer Christmas trees remain in homes, the longer they present a risk.”

Carli says the real danger is with fresh Christmas trees, which will continue to dry out and become more flammable over time.

To safely dispose of a Christmas tree, NFPA recommends using a local tree recycling program, if possible; trees should not be put in the garage or left outside. NFPA also offers these tips for safely removing lighting and decorations to ensure that they remain in good condition:

  • 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, throwing 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.