COACHELLA VALLEY, Calif. - Christmas is less than a week away and it may be time to think about what you should do about your tree, as it can be a potential danger in your home. Firefighters say a tree can become a major fire hazard in your home if it is not properly maintained and disposed of.
They say your Christmas tree should be watered daily and to check if it is retaining that water. Once they lose their fresh smell and their needles begin to fall, it's time to dispose of it. Even a small electrical spark can cause the tree to erupt in flames and engulf a room rapidly, in some cases just 30 seconds.
They also say make sure your tree doesn't lean against your home which is another potential hazard.
Christmas tree fires inside the home are not common, but when they do happen, they are much more deadly than other residential fires.
On average, one of every 35 Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home fires.
Instead of tossing that Christmas tree in the dumpster after the holiday, drop it off at a Riverside County landfill for recycling to benefit the environment, officials said.
According to the county Department of Waste Resources, residents can ensure trees are turned into "nutrient rich" mulch by participating in the agency's curbside pickup program, or taking discarded firs directly to the Badlands and Lamb Canyon landfills east of Moreno Valley.
"Make the last gift you give this year to the Earth -- recycle Christmas trees," according to an agency statement.
The recycling program involves turning tannenbaums into chips and combining them with food waste from the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning to create compost that enhances the soil onto which it's poured.
Trees must be stripped of decorations, including lights and tinsel, before they can be recycled. Flocked trees are not accepted and are supposed to be chopped up and put into trash receptacles, county officials said.
Most trash haulers serving the county retrieve firs for recycling for two weeks after Christmas.
Those residents who don't have curbside trash pickup, or who miss the deadline, can drop their discarded trees -- without charge -- at any one of the following locations until Jan. 7:
-- A. Lua Wood Recycling, 18938 Mermack Ave., Lake Elsinore;
-- B.P. John Recycling, 28700 Matthews Road, Menifee;
-- Burrtec Recycle Center, 41-800 Corporate Way, Palm Desert;
-- Burrtec/Robert A. Nelson Transfer Station, 1830 Agua Mansa Road,
-- Badlands Landfill, 31125 Ironwood Ave., Moreno Valley; and
-- Lamb Canyon Landfill, 16411 Lamb Canyon Road, Beaumont.
More information is available at here.