Where to Recycle Your Tree and Reduce Your Chances of House Fire

National Fire Protection Association research shows that nearly 40 percent of homes fires that began with Christmas trees occurred in January.

Patch file photo
Patch file photo

When most people think about the holidays, things like decorations, candles, delicious treats and ornamented trees are what come to mind. What few consider is the fact that these fun-filled winter months are the leading time for home fires according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Frequently, people choose to keep Christmas trees up for a few weeks after the holiday. NFPA research shows that nearly 40 percent of homes fires that began with Christmas trees occurred in January.

“The longer they are in the home, the more dangerous they become. The continued use of seasonal lighting and dried-out trees can pose significant fire hazards in and outside the home,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for NFPA. “Proper disposal of the tree from your home will minimize the risk and will keep the holiday a joyful one.”

Although these tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be fatal. On average, one of every 40 reported home structure Christmas tree fires resulted in a death compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home structure fires.

 To reduce the risk of holiday tree and light fires and to keep decorations in good condition for next year, you should also follow these suggestions:

  • As you’re putting away electrical light strings, take time to inspect each for damage. Throw out light sets if they have loose connections, broken sockets or cracked or bare wires.
  • Do not place a damaged set of lights back into the storage box for next year’s use.
  • Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags, or wrap the lights around a piece of cardboard.
  • Store electrical decorations in a dry place where they cannot be damaged by water or dampness. Also, keep them away from children and pets.

This holiday season, the County of San Diego and I Love A Clean San Diego (ILACSD) remind residents to recycle their holiday trees and foliage. Trees and yard trimmings are easily recyclable into mulch and compost.  Finding out how to recycle holiday trees is quick and convenient when you visit the County’s Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste database at www.WasteFreeSD.org or call 1-877-R-1-EARTH (1-877-713-2784). While you are there, learn how and where to recycle your tree as well as hundreds of other items.

Recycling your holiday tree conserves natural resources and preserves the capacity of local landfills.  The compost and mulch made from trees and other yard trimmings are used to improve soil health at residences, public parks, and local farms.  There are many ways to make your holidays more eco-friendly, like recycling wrapping paper and gift boxes, but often people forget that their tree can be recycled too! According to the National Christmas Tree Association, 25-30 million holiday trees are sold each year in the United States. 

Most waste haulers offer special holiday tree recycling programs to pick up trees with yard waste on regular collection days. In addition to curbside pick-up, tree drop-off sites are located in the communities of Bonsall, Carlsbad, Coronado, Del Mar, El Cajon, Escondido, Fallbrook, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Ramona, San Marcos, Solana Beach, Valley Center, Vista and several communities in the City of San Diego.  Attached is ILACSD’s Christmas Tree Recycling Guide for San Diego County. A complete list of tree recycling locations is also available at www.WasteFreeSD.org.

Before recycling your holiday tree, review this list of recycling tips to ensure that your tree is recycled properly:

·         Trees taller than four feet should be cut in half.

·         All tree stands, nails and tree decorations must be removed.

·         Check with your local hauler to see if they accept flocked trees (most do not).

–From press releases by www.WasteFreeSD.org  and the National Fire Protection Association


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