Each year, hospital emergency rooms treat about 12-thousand 5-hundred people for injuries related to holiday lights, decorations, and Christmas trees. Hundreds of families lose their homes to fires involving Christmas trees. But there are some ways you can protect your home and family, and keep this kind of tragedy from stealing your holiday joy.
It doesn't take long for a Christmas tree to go up in flames--about 45 seconds.
Poor Christmas tree maintenance is why about 400 homes a year are destroyed by fire during and just after the holiday season.
Gulfport fire fighter Jamie Jenkins said these types of fires are an especially sad sight.
"Simply because people are losing things, new gifts, things that they've gotten for Christmas or things that they've gotten for other individuals for Christmas," he said.
And now that the holiday is over, Christmas trees are becoming even more of a fire hazard.
Jenkins said, "They do dry out. Even if we do the maintenance that we need to do daily on them, by watering them, over the course of time with them being in the house, they are going to dry out. You need to keep a close eye out on them."
By the sight of trees lined up for recycling on Courthouse Road, some people aren't wasting any time getting rid of their Christmas trees.
Fire fighters are hoping everyone will be rid of their trees by the first of the year.
Jenkinsa said, "If you do continue to get excessive needle droppings from the trees, if they start looking like they get real brittle or so, it's probably a good idea this time of year to go ahead and remove the tree."
The Christmas tree drop off on Courthouse Road is just one of many places you can take your tree for recycling in Harrison County.
In Gulfport, you can go to the Public Works office on Hewes Avenue, Mississippi Power's plant on Lorraine Road, and the Orange Grove Lions Club on Community Road.
Biloxi drop-off locations include Cedar Popps Shopping Center; the Rodenburg Avenue parking bay, the Biloxi Stadium parking lot on Lee street, and Bay Vista Fire Station on Pass Road.
Other drop-offs include the Long Beach Harbor and Animal General Hospital in Long Beach and the Pass Christian Harbor.
You have until January 6th to drop off your tree.
Recycling Christmas trees saves landfill space and the trees are used to create mulch for country landscaping.