Christmas has come and gone, but for many in and around Osceola County, the celebrations continue and will pass the new year.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is encouraging Floridians to make sure their live Christmas trees are disposed of quickly after the holidays. Leaving a tree up past December greatly increases the chances of a fire incident, as nearly 30 percent of Christmas tree fires occur in January, especially with the warm weather we’re experiencing in Central Florida.

“While it may be tempting to leave the Christmas tree up longer this year, it is extremely important to take down the tree quickly to prevent a fire-related tragedy. Dry Christmas trees pose a serious fire hazard and properly disposing of the tree can ensure your family and property remain safe, CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said. ”

Four Tips for Holiday Decoration Disposal & Storage
1. Check for local disposal programs, like the City of St. Cloud‘s Don’t Curb It…SWAP it program, where you can trade in your old Christmas tree for a new tree to plant at home! Many communities offer a Christmas tree recycling program and have specific drop-off locations or procedures for disposal. You may be able to leave it at the curb at your typical yard waste or bulk collection day. It’s best to check with your local authorities for details.

2. Do not store your tree in the home or garage. A dry tree can pose a serious fire risk when left in a garage or carport. Do not place your tree against the home before disposal.

3. Use caution when burning a tree. Do not burn your Christmas tree without checking with your local community for their open burn regulations. As with any fire, always keep a fire extinguisher close.

4. Check lights and decorations before storing. 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. Store electrical decorations in a dry place away from children and pets where they will not be damaged by water or dampness. This can save you from accidentally creating electrical hazards for next year.