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Tips for taking down Christmas decorations

With Christmas come and gone, many households now face the prospects of taking down Christmas trees and other decorations.

Although Christmas tree fires are uncommon, when they do occur, they are often serious. One out of every 21 reported Christmas tree fires results in a fatality, according to the National Fire Protection Association. One-third of Christmas tree fires occurred in January.

Dried-out trees should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check to see what options exist for tree recycling programs. Trees should be removed from homes before they become too dried-out, which then increases the risk of fire.

As you unplug and store electric holiday decorations, remember that practicing safety now can keep decorations in working condition and prevent potential hazards from occurring next year. The following are safety tips that can be used when putting away seasonal decorations:

To unplug electric decorations, use the gripping area provided on the plugs. Never pull the cord to unplug a device from electrical outlets. Doing so can harm the cord's wire and insulation and even lead to an electrical shock or fire.

As you're putting away electrical light strings, take time to 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 for next year's use.

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 or dampness. Also, keep them away from children and pets.