Christmas tree fire prevention and recycling - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Christmas tree fire prevention and recycling

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

It's only a few days past Christmas, so odds are you still have your tree up. However, be careful because you don't want it to become a fire hazard.

Lesley Morgan, Battalion Chief at the Chattanooga Fire Department, says this can happen with live or artificial trees.

"For both types of trees, the main concern is going to be overloading the lights on there, the electrical system," Chief Morgan says. "Using extension cords. Covering those extension cords with packages."

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas trees don't cause home fires, but when they do, they spread fast, in less than a minute, and can be quite destructive. From 2011 through 2015, they caused an average of six deaths and almost $15 million dollars in damage a year across the U.S. Also, 42% of the fires happened in December, 37% in January. 

"Make sure you water it every day up until the day you decide to take it outside," Chief Morgan adds. "Even if it doesn't have lights or ornaments on it, you need to make sure you're watering it if it's in your home."

Once you're ready to pack away your artificial tree, store it in a bin such as a Rubber Maid tub, or in a Christmas tree bag.

When you're ready to get rid of your live Christmas tree, don't throw it away with your regular trash. If you live within the city limits you can take your tree to one of Chattanooga's three Refuse Collection Centers (RCCs) or five Recycle Centers.

Calvin and Wilhelmina Moore recycle a lot. They stopped by the recycling center next to Warner Park on Wednesday to drop off cardboard. They're happy to hear trees are on the list of appropriate items.

"Absolutely, the Moores say. "If we had a real Christmas tree we would bring it here and would encourage others to bring them here also."

Kim Smith, recycling coordinator for the Chattanooga Public Works Department, says accepting Christmas trees is something fairly new.

"We have two trees that were just brought in yesterday, which is nice," Smith says. "So, people are actually spreading the word."

Spreading the word helps the city fulfill its mission to keep Chattanooga green and re-purpose as much as possible.

"Well, right now what the city's trying to do is recycle everything," Smith adds. "The more we can recycle to get out of the landfill, the better it is for the environment. So, they'll [Christmas trees] be taken to the wood recycling center and go through the grinder, and we'll use it for mulch."

Before you take your live tree for recycling, remove all lights and ornaments. If you can't take your tree to a center, Public Works can pick it up for you. Just call 311 or use the CHATT311 app. Trees will be accepted through the end of January.

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