Once the presents are opened and the ornaments are packed away, you may be wondering what to do with your Christmas tree. According to fire safety experts, it's important to get rid of it as soon as possible.
Travis County Fire Marshal Hershel Lee says Christmas trees pose a serious fire hazard, and the holiday season marks an annual spike in the number of house fires. In addition to keeping trees well-hydrated and away from heat, Lee says they shouldn't stick around the house long after the holidays.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there is an average of $18.3 million in property damage caused by Christmas tree fires each year in the U.S. The Association says most of that damage occurs just after Christmas. The Austin-based home security company Protect America put together a report about holiday fires. Tim Krebs, the company's communications director, says house fires caused by Christmas trees can be among the most dangerous.
"Some of the statistics we found were crazy," says Krebs." 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 structure fires."
His advice? "Dispose of your tree soon after Christmas, because the more it sits around and the more it dries out, the more you likely you are to have an issue," Krebs says.
Here's how Austin-area residents can get rid of their trees:
The City of Austin is offering curbside pick-ups for Austin residents. Trees should be set out on your scheduled trash and yard trimming collection day. Collectors ask that trees over 6 feet tall be cut in half and all decorations be removed.
Trees can also be recycled at Zilker Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on January 4 and 5, and the following weekend on January 11 and 12. The trees collected at Zilker will be converted into mulch and will be available to Austin residents for free beginning January 23.
Other tree drop-off locations:
- Del Valle Softball Complex
3582 FM 973
Del Valle, TX 78617
- 6013 Blue Bluff Road
Austin, Texas 78724
- Travis County Transfer Station
18649 FM 1431
Jonestown, Texas 78645
- RM 620 Low Water Crossing
(Beneath the RM 620 bridge, before Mansfield Dam)
- Organics "By Gosh"
13602 FM 969
Austin, Texas 78724