NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — One-third of house fires that happen in January are because of Christmas trees.

According to a news release, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) wants to encourage people to keep the holiday memories, but remove the hazards by getting rid of those trees as soon as possible.

“As much as we all enjoy the look and feel of Christmas trees in our homes, they’re large combustible items that have the potential to result in serious fires,” said Lorraine Carli, the vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA. “The longer Christmas trees remain in homes, the longer they present a risk.”

Carli considers that fresh Christmas trees are involved in a large portion of reported Christmas tree fires than fake trees because they continue to dry out and then become even more flammable.

160 home fires have begun with Christmas trees, with $12 million in direct property damage, on average each year, according to the latest Christmas Tree Fires report.

Fires that have begun with Christmas trees only account for a small, but notable part of the fire problem since they’re only in sure for a month or so each year.

To properly get rid of a tree, NFPA recommends that people use the community’s recycling program. Trees should not be put in the garage or left outside.

Here are four tips for safely removing lighting and decorations to make sure they stay reusable for the future.

  • Use the gripping area on plugs when unplugging items.
  • Inspect each light for damage while packing them up.
  • Wrap each set of lights and put them in a plastic bag or wrap them around something.
  • Keep electrical decor in dry places and away from children and pets

For more information on fire safety, visit NFPA’s campaign “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires.”