VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- While Christmas trees are beautiful decorations, the Virginia Beach Fire Department is warning owners to not keep them up too long as they can turn deadly.

Art Kohn, spokesperson for the VBFD, said homeowners should take down Christmas trees by New Year's Day at the very latest.

“The longer your tree sits in your house, the more of a fire hazard it becomes,” said Kohn. “These trees dry out at a very fast rate.”

About 40 percent of house fires in the months of December and January are caused by Christmas trees nationwide, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

“Even if you've been doing a good job and diligently keeping water in that tree stand, at some point, that tree stops absorbing the water so you want to get that tree out pretty soon,” said Kohn.

When disposing of trees, homeowners should take off all decorations and lights, which Kohn added is a great opportunity to plan for Christmas 2018.

See Also: How to recycle your Christmas trees

“Inspect those lights make sure the cables are all in good working order, that you don't have any splits in your cables,” said Kohn.

For the homeowners that aren't convinced, it's important to note that while the tree may be pretty, the damage it can leave behind can also be deadly.