The National Fire Protection Association is urging the prompt removal of that now-old Christmas tree that may now be drying out -- and no longer living -- in your living room.

Association spokeswoman Susan McKelvey said some of us do not want to say goodbye to the holidays, but that dried-out tree is a very combustible fire hazard -- moreso each day.

"And the longer they're in our homes, the more they continue to dry out," McKelvey  said. "And that presents a real risk of fire. So as hard as it as it ... might be to say goodbye, you really need to."

Fortunately, she said, Christmas tree fires don't happen often.

"But the problem is that when they do happen, they're much more likely to be serious," McKelvey said. "And when I say serious, I mean there's a much higher likelihood of fatalities involved in that because a dried-out Christmas tree will go up in flames within seconds. And then you've got a large roaring fire and in today's homes, they spread faster than ever. It could be really dangerous, even potentially fatal."

When it comes to getting rid of the tree, there are options. McKelvey said Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts clubs are often involved in tree pickups. Island Beach State Park recently collected trees to help build up sand dunes.

McKelvey also advises an thorough inspection of Christmas lights before storing them. Watch out for frayed wires, and  wrap up all your lights individually. Store them well away from children and pets, and in a dry location where they can't be damaged by water.

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