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2/18/2014 - Christmas decorations still up? Why it's time to take them down

Perhaps the biggest reason why Christmas trees are particularly flammable the longer they're up has to do with their drying out.

It occurs virtually every year, and in 2014, the trend has continued: Christmas decorations are still up on many homes. Despite being nearly two months since Dec. 25, virtually every neighborhood throughout the country has at least a handful of homeowners who want to hold on to the festive season just a little bit longer. Others, meanwhile, don't take their ornaments down due to sheer laziness.

Whatever the reason may be, though, keeping Christmas trees up and lit is a serious safety hazard. In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 50% of all Christmas tree-related fires between 2007 and 2011 were caused by either an electrical malfunction or the branches on the tree being in proximity to a heating source. Some of these incidents led to homeowners insurance claims.

Michael Barry, vice president of the III, indicated that property insurance in a variety of forms protects homeowners from these incidents.

"Standard homeowners insurance policies pay to repair or rebuild a fire-damaged residence, while both homeowners and renters insurance policies cover a policyholder's personal belongings if they are damaged or destroyed by fire," said Barry.

Perhaps the biggest reason why Christmas trees are particularly flammable is due to the longer they're up the more they can dry out. In fact, up to a certain point, trees will stop absorbing water all together. This leads to a more rapid loss of needles, which becomes that that much more of a fire risk.

Roughly one in every six Christmas tree fires that occur in the U.S. each year is due to something hot being close to it, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. The USFA has a video link at its website that shows just how easily a dry Christmas tree can catch fire compared to one that's moisture-filled.

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