When your natural, once-alive Christmas tree begins to lose needles, turn brown, and lose its pine scent, it’s time to dispose of it.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, a Christmas tree started an average of 160 house fires per year from 2015-19. From 2011 to 2015, the fire brigades responded to around 200 house fires caused by trees every year.
Every year there was an average of two deaths, twelve injured and property damage of over 10 million US dollars.
Related: Buying a real Christmas tree this year? Here are some fire safety tips that will help keep you safe
NFPA’s Susan McKelvey said people should be aware of the dangers of holding a tree for over a month. “The longer it’s in your home, the greater the chance something could happen,” she told USA TODAY.
To keep your home safe, here are some places to safely dispose of this potential fire hazard.
waste paper bin
In the city of Peoria, GFL Environmental Inc., formerly PDC, accepts Christmas trees on regular collection dates, which are placed next to the garbage. Trees should be 5 feet or less tall (or sawn in half) and clear of lights, tinsel, decorations, wire, hooks, and stands. Bagging is recommended. Trees are taken to the district’s landfill as they are not considered landscape waste.
Artificial trees less than five feet tall are also accepted, but PDC encourages donation to thrift stores.
Another option is to go “green” with this brown tree. For those who prefer to recycle, here are some eco-friendly options.
Better Earth Premium Compost at 1514 S. Cameron Lane accepts trees with no lights, tinsel, decorations, or stands. The fee is $ 5. Delivery times are from Monday to Friday from 8.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. For more information, call 309-697-0963.
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Through January 15, the following Tazewell County drop-off points will accept live Christmas trees for mulching:
- Armington: Opposite the town hall
- Creve Coeur: Town Hall, 101 N. Thorncrest
- East Peoria: Illinois Central College East campus, near the truck driver training area
- Hopedale: Behind the town hall
- Mackinaw: 605 S. Orchard (behind recycling bins)
- Mining: Near the Recycle Bin in Park and Pennsylvania
- Morton: Freedom Hall, 349 W. Birchwood St.
- Tremont: Pile of leaves next to the city park
- Washington: 815 Lincoln, near maintenance
- Beijing residents only: The city will collect trees from the curb in the first two weeks of January.
Trees are processed by a hacker, so all lights, ornaments, tinsel and plastic bags should be removed before trees are taken to the drop-off points.
For more information, contact the Tazewell County Health Department at 309-929-0342.
USA TODAY contributed to this story.