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Dried-out Christmnas trees pose fire hazard

The Daily ItemLYNN ? January is the month of dried-out Christmas trees that drop needles and, according to national safety experts, are the cause of one in five house fires.The National Fire Protection Association advises residents to get rid of their Christmas tree and greens and store electronic decorations inside now that the holidays are over.”Even well-watered trees dry out after four weeks,” said John Drengenberg, consumer affairs manager for Underwriters Laboratory, a non-profit product safety testing organization. “So if your tree went up right after Thanksgiving, it should be discarded after Christmas and not New Year’s Day.”NFPA spokesman Lorraine Carli said 20 percent of home fires during January are attributed to dried-out Christmas trees. “Christmas trees can be a significant fuel source if a fire occurs in your home,” she said. “Dried-out trees burn easily and should not be left in a garage or placed against the house.”The NFPA recommends disposing of holiday trees as soon after Christmas as possible and notes that tinderbox flora isn’t the only source of fire danger.”Leaving your decorations out for several months or even all year not only aggravates your neighbors but also leaves the wires exposed to rain, snow, cold, the sun, squirrels and birds longer than intended by the safety standards,” Carli said.Drengenberg concurred. “The safety standards are developed anticipating a maximum of 90 days of use per year because these decorations are considered seasonal,” he said. “If you leave them out any longer, the resulting damage could cause an electrical shock or a fire hazard.”Fire safety specialists say the precautions regarding outdoor decorations are particularly important in 2007 as more residents purchase inflatable holiday characters n snowmen, reindeer, Santa Claus n that rely on an electrical pump to keep their shape.

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