modern style interior of fireplace with christmas tree and presents in white and bright red

It’s not quite Christmas yet, but here are some smart and safe ideas to help you with clean up after the big day.

Start with your ornaments and decor. 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 your lights, check for broken bulbs or frayed cords. Don’t keep anything that has cracked or frayed cords – 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. Organize them and label the box or wrap them in masking tape and mark the tape. You can also wrap them around cardboard and they will be less likely to tangle.

Remember, if you are storing your lights in the attic, summer temperatures can get very hot and plastic lights can melt. If you store in the attic, check your lights thoroughly when you get them out next year.

If you store your 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 will want to recycle it and help the environment. Remember to remove all ornaments, tinsel and lights.

A good Christmas clean-up will make things so much easier next year.

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