That’s a Wrap: The Right Way to Undecorate After the Holidays
Storing or tossing decorations safely will give you a head start next year
“Keep Christmas with you all through the
year,” or so goes the well-known holiday song. While the sentiment may be
sweet, the reality is you’ll probably get the stink eye from neighbors if you
holiday decor up all year.
Failing to “undecorate” isn’t just socially inappropriate.
It can be dangerous, especially when it comes to outdoor lights.
Decorations are temporary lighting, not light fixtures. When
UL tests holiday light strings for safety, they’re tested as decorations, which
means a maximum use of 90 days. If you leave them up during the summer, you
have extreme heat, birds and squirrels that could damage the wiring. Then next
season when you plug them in, you might see sparks.
Related: How to Recycle Your Christmas Tree
Here are tips for taking down, storing and disposing of festive décor safely.
Lights. Before you stow away your lights, inspect them. If any are broken or damaged, toss them, UL advises. If they’re good to use again, UL suggests wrapping lights loosely around an empty wrapping paper tube and storing them in a dry place. Don’t pile too many other decorations on top of the lights. It’ll crush them, and you’ll have damaged décor when you take them out next season.
You can also take a square piece of cardboard, and cut a slit in one side of the square. Thread the end of a set of lights through the slit. Wrap the lights around the cardboard, threading the other end back through the slit.
Related: Safebee's Top Winter Safety Tips
However you wrap them up, UL suggests storing lights in a suitcase. Just be sure to separate indoor light from outdoor lights, and keep them all away from children and pets who could damage cords and wires.
Plugs and extension cords. As you unplug your lights or that dancing Santa, be careful not to yank on the cord. You could damage the wires inside the cord, the plug itself or the outlet. Instead, grip the plug.
Don’t forget to put away extension cords. UL says you
shouldn’t leave them outside and exposed to the elements.
Garlands, wreaths and other greenery. Trees only last about four weeks, even when you keep them well-watered. Take down greenery as soon as it start to dry out and shed needles, he advises. It should all go straight to the curb to be picked up or taken to be recycled. Don’t leave it on your porch or near your house where it can fuel a home fire.
Also, don’t burn greenery in your fireplace, either. Dry needles are highly combustible and can quickly burn out of control, sending sparks out of the fireplace. Your fireplace is intended to burn well-seasoned wood, not to burn dried evergreen branches.
Related: How to Avoid a Chimney Fire
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