PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — State and local officials are warning residents not to wait too late to dispose of their Christmas trees.

Dying or dry trees can become a fire hazard if not careful, according to fire officials.

Leaving a tree up past December increases the chances of a fire incident. Nearly 30 percent of Christmas tree fires occur in January, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

“We have a lot of residents that like keeping a tree up through New Year’s and the thing about that is the tree gets extremely dry,” said Ray Melton, fire and life safety specialist at Escambia County Fire Rescue. “The sap really is flammable. Once a tree dries out, it gets thicker and it’s like a fuel. We don’t want them setting fire to it and burning it up and causing more fires, but just safety discard it.”

The office of Florida CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis sent out these tips Monday morning to help avoid fires.

Four Tips for Holiday Decoration Disposal & Storage

1. Check for local disposal programs. Many communities offer a Christmas tree recycling program and have specific drop off locations or procedures for disposal. You may be able to leave it at the curb at your typical yard waste or bulk collection day. It’s best to check with your local authorities for details.

2. Do not store your tree in the home or garage. A dry tree can pose a serious fire risk when left in a garage or car port. Do not place your tree against the home before disposal.

3. Use caution when burning a tree. Do not burn your Christmas tree without checking with your local community for their open burn regulations. As with any fire, always keep a fire extinguisher close.

4. Check lights and decorations before storing. As you pack up light strings, inspect each line for damage, throwing out any sets that have loose connections, broken sockets or cracked or bare wires. Store electrical decorations in a dry place away from children and pets where they will not be damaged by water or dampness. This can save you from accidentally creating electrical hazards for next year.