A Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist in family and community health offers tips on Christmas tree safety.
Joyce Cavanagh, the extension specialist, said fires started by Christmas trees are rare, but cautions homeowners and renters to take precautions.
- Provide a direct water source for your tree, or water it frequently to keep it from drying out.
- Keep the tree at least 3 feet away from any heat source — a fireplace, stove, radiator or candle.
- Make sure the tree is not blocking your path to your door.
- Turn off the tree lights when going to bed or leaving home.
- Take the tree outside when needles start turning brown and dropping.
- Don't leave a discarded tree in a garage or close to an exterior wall
If your community has a Christmas tree collection or recycling program, follow instructions for pickup. Be sure to get as much ribbon, tinsel and other non-organic material off of the tree as possible. Tree disposal bags are available at home improvement stores.
Cavanagh advises homeowners to sweep dropped needles, as vacuuming them can clog your vacuum quickly.
If you miss your city's Christmas tree collection time, you can chop up unflocked trees and put the pieces into a yard water bag for the next collection.
"Flocked trees will likely need to be chopped up and disposed of along with your regular solid waste," Cavenagh said.
FEATURED IMAGE: Discarded and snowy Christmas trees at the City of Dallas drop off site on East Northwest Highway in 2011. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News).