POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) - While it may be aesthetically pleasing to leave your Christmas tree out for the beginning of the new year, you may be taking a risk.
The National Fire Protection Association strongly endorses people to remove their Christmas trees from their homes promptly after the holidays.
Pocatello Fire Department Community Relations Specialist Kim Stouse says the time has come to check out your tree.
"It’s really important that if you do have a real Christmas tree, and it is starting to dry out and looks like it needs to be taken down, it's best to do so, because we don't want to risk it having a catch on fire," Stouse said.
According to the NFPA, nearly 31% of home fires in the United States that begin with Christmas trees occur in January. Stouse says that both real and artificial Christmas trees are a possible source for a fire.
"Generally if we see a fire involving a Christmas tree, it could be artificial if they're using improper lights on it or if it is too close to a heat source," Stouse said. "If it's a real tree, generally it's because it starts to dry out."
In Pocatello, you can dispose of your Christmas tree at one of three locations: City Hall, Rainy Park or Sister City Park.
Stouse says although you may be safe to leave your tree up, the longer you let your Christmas tree stand, the more dangerous it could become.
"I think if you have an artificial tree, and you make sure that you have the appropriate decorations on it, that's fine," Stouse said. "Even with a real tree, we're not saying you must take it down, but you do increase the chances, because the longer that you have a real tree up, it's going to dry out as it goes."
Going forward during these next winter months, Stouse says it is vital we check our alarms routinely to ensure our safety.
"Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms," Stouse said. "We start to see in wintertime people having their doors and windows closed to keep the heat in. If you have any fuel burning appliance, whether it be wood burning stove, a gas furnace, gas water heater, in addition to your smoke alarm, please make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector."
The locations in Pocatello are available until Jan. 8.