Christmas tree removal and safety tips

The City of Shelton Fire Prevention Bureau would like to remind everyone to promptly remove their "fresh cut" Christmas tree from homes before they become dry.

Ted Pisciotta, Assistant Chief - Fire Prevention, is concerned that those who delay with tree disposal could quickly create a very serious fire hazard. Until such time the tree is removed, it is especially important to remember to keep the stand filled with water at all times. The bottom line is that the longer the tree remains in the home, the greater the fire risk becomes.

Once ignited, fire involving the entire tree could quickly result in rapid fire spread throughout the home. Not only will damage be extensive, but serious injury or loss of life is possible.

A tree will tend to become dry, especially when kept indoors over time. Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull from the branches, and a needle should bend, not break. Also if needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a very serious fire hazard. Trees should not be left up for longer than two weeks and be sure to keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. Dried trees should not be kept in the home, garage, or placed outside against the home.

Chief Pisciotta reports that it is not uncommon to see residents keeping lights and Christmas trees up past December. The reality is, continued use of seasonal lighting and dried-out Christmas trees can pose significant fire hazards in and outside the home.

To reduce the risk of holiday light fires and keep equipment in good condition for next year, follow these storage suggestions from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):

• To unplug electrical 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.

Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call “911” for help.  And remember to practice your home escape plan.

For more information, the public is encouraged to contact the Shelton Fire Prevention Bureau at 924-1555 or on the web under “Public Safety” at