You decked the halls and trimmed the tree, but now the hectic holidays have passed.

As you clean up and tear down your holiday decorations, Heartland and the Electrical Safety Foundation International remind you to use caution. Home fires caused by decorations peak in December, but the risk is still high through February. According to National Fire Protection Association, in 2015, four of every five Christmas tree fires occurred in December and January.

Keep safety a part of your holiday traditions. Follow these six tips for a safe holiday wrap up:

  1. Take them down! Holiday decorations are meant for temporary use. Leaving them up for extended periods leaves wires unnecessarily exposed to the elements, which can decrease the product’s shelf life and increase the risk of electrical hazards. Similarly, as Christmas trees dry out, they become increasingly flammable. Trees decorated with lights have an increased risk because they are in direct contact with an electrical source. Check with your city for Christmas tree drop off areas or pick up times, or recycle it!
  2. Practice basic ladder safety. Always use a proper step ladder when removing or storing decorations. Don’t stand on chairs or other furniture. When handling electrical decorations outside, use a wooden or fiberglass ladder and wait for clear, calm weather.
  3. Check for damage. Inspect wiring and bulbs as you take down your holiday lights. Discard any strands that have cracked, frayed or damaged wires.
  4. Don’t yank the cord. Unplug decor using the designated gripping area. Pulling on a cord can damage wires and present a shock or fire hazard.
  5. Work smarter, not harder. Organize as you pack by labeling and storing indoor decorations separate from those intended for outdoor use. Wrap breakables in protective materials to avoid accidents when unpacking next season.
  6. Keep things high and dry. Store your decorations in enclosed plastic containers to guard against water and moisture damage. Choose a storage area that is not easily accessible by children or pets and is away from heat sources and open flames.

For more information on how to safely wrap up the holidays, or for other electrical safety resources for use throughout the year, visit www.esfi.org or email info@esfi.org.