Christmas lights in boxes on floor

While many of us are still putting up holiday decorations, there soon will come a time when we take them down. A little planning ahead might save some time.

Start with small goals for clean up and tackle one item at a time. 

A good place to start is with ornaments. As you take them down, keep only those that are in good shape for next year. It might be helpful to store them in clear bags, sorted by color or style, in the same container.

When you take down strings of lights, check for broken bulbs or frayed cords. Don’t keep anything that is cracked or frayed, as this will be a fire hazard next time you go to use them. The same goes for extension cords.

When putting your lights away, don’t just throw them in a heap. Wrap them around cardboard, or loosely in a circle, to help prevent tangling. Organize them in some way – whether by size, color, or location – and label their storage box.

You could also wrap them in masking tape and mark the tape. Be sure to label whether they are indoor or outdoor lights.

Remember, if you are storing your lights in the attic, summer temperatures can get very hot and plastic lights can melt. Check your lights thoroughly when you get them out for the next Christmas.

If you store an artificial tree in the garage, consider shrink wrapping it. This will keep it clean and protected.

If you used a real tree this year, you might want to recycle it and help the environment. Remember to remove all ornaments, tinsel, lights, etc., before taking it to be mulched.

As you put away gifts you have received, consider throwing away the old version. New pajamas, appliances or electronics? Maybe it’s time to throw the old ones out. Keep in mind that the more cluttered your home gets, the greater your fuel load becomes for a fire.

Since your stove and oven most likely will get lots of use over the holidays, the days following are a good time to get your oven really clean. It will make a difference for future cooking, and also reduce your chance of a fire.

Make sure your fireplace is kept in good working condition.  If you will be using it over the holidays and throughout the winter season, be sure to have it inspected for cracking or deterioration and make any necessary repairs.

Have a lovely, and safe, holiday season!

Cinda Seamon is the fire and life safety educator for Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue.