Time to toss the tree? How to do it safely, avoid fire hazard

Florida Forest Service offers tips for getting rid of your Christmas tree

By Francine Frazier - Senior web producer

With Christmas now in the rear-view mirror, many Floridians might be getting ready to take down the decorations and discard the Christmas tree this weekend.

For those planning to start the new year with a tree-free home, Florida Forest Service has some advice for how to properly dispose of your Christmas tree.

Dry limbs and needles from discarded Christmas trees can be an ignition source for fire if not properly cleared away from homes and natural areas, according to FFS, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

One way to avoid this potential fire hazard is by recycling Christmas trees.

Many communities offer tree recycling services, such as curbside pick-up, recycling centers and mulching programs.

Check with your local city or county government or utility service for more information about Christmas tree disposal and recycling programs.

MORE: Tree recycling programs available in St. Johns County, Palm Coast

Some residents may choose to burn their Christmas trees. The Florida Forest Service offers the following tips for safe outdoor burning:

  • Check local ordinances for county burn bans and requirements for outdoor burning.
  • Burn only if significant rainfall has occurred in the last three or four days.
  • Never burn on dry or windy days.
  • Select a burn location that is at least 25 feet from natural areas, 25 feet from your home, 150 feet from other occupied buildings and 50 feet from any paved public roadway.
  • Remove all decorations from the tree before you burn.
  • Cut the tree into manageable sections, as necessary.
  • Clear the burn area free of other flammable materials, such as leaf litter and pine straw.
  • Keep a shovel and water hose handy in case the fire starts to escape containment.
  • Never leave a fire unattended, and make sure it is out before leaving.
  • Never burn a Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove.

The Florida Forest Service manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests.

The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com.

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