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Early un-decorating encouraged

Published 9:27pm Friday, December 27, 2013

Now that Christmas is over, most folks are thinking about taking down the decorations and putting them away until next year.

The most popular decoration of all — the Christmas tree — should be the first to come down, especially if you got yours early in the season. A real Christmas tree is a major fire hazard and becomes more dangerous with every passing day.

“The longer they are in the home, the more dangerous they become,” Lorraine Carli, vice president of outreach and advocacy for the National Fire Protection Association, stated in a press release. “Proper disposal of the tree from your home will minimize the risk and will keep the holiday a joyful one.”

Fires that start on the Christmas tree are not common but are more likely to be fatal than the average residential fire, according to the NFPA. Therefore, the association recommends getting them out of the house as soon as possible after the festivities are over.

The city’s Public Works Department will collect Christmas trees and boxes as a special collection through Jan. 8. Until that date, the trees and boxes will not count toward the 12 free bulk collections each household gets per year. After Jan. 8, they will be picked up but will count toward the limit.

Those who want to continue putting their tree to good use can follow one of these recommendations from Virginia Tech for recycling your Christmas tree.

  • Use it as a cover for birds in your yard. Drive a stake into the ground near your bird feeder and tie the tree to it. The tree will keep birds warm and protect them from predators.
  • Build a brush pile. Use your Christmas tree and any other brush you can collect to build the brush pile, which will give small animals like rabbits a safe, warm spot they can use to hide or live in. As the trees and brush decompose, they will return nutrients to the soil.
  • Chip it. If you have a large leaf mulcher, you can turn the tree into natural mulch. Acid-loving plants such as azaleas and rhododendrons will benefit.
  • Use it as firewood. Cut the branches off the tree, cut up the trunk and leave it to dry. Pine is not recommended for regular use as firewood because the higher soot buildup in the chimney is dangerous over the long run. But a few branches once a year shouldn’t hurt as long as you have regular chimney maintenance performed, according to Virginia Tech.
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