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CONYERS – Ready to toss out the evergreen tree from Christmas? Keep Conyers-Rockdale Beautiful and the Conyers Home Depot will join together to host the Bring One for the Chipper Program in Rockdale County at the Home Depot, located at 1330 Dogwood Drive, on Saturday, Jan. 9 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

The Chipper program offers citizens the opportunity to dispose of their cut trees at a central location in the community, while recycling the trees for reuse for a good cause. Christmas trees are recycled into mulch, fuel or fish habitats. The mulch is used for public beautification projects and in many communities is available free to area residents, local governments, businesses and organizations.

Across the state, thousands of volunteers in hundreds of Georgia communities come together for the Chipper event. Since its inception 30 years ago, in 1991, the program has collected more than 6 million trees for beneficial reuse. The mulch from these trees has been used for playgrounds, local government beautification projects and individual yards.

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For more information on this or other community recycling projects, contact Keep Conyers-Rockdale Beautiful, at 770-278-7052 or by email at kcrb@rockdalecountyga.gov.

Anyone who is reluctant to get rid of their Christmas tree should consider that nearly one-third (31 percent) of U.S. home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January. The longer a natural tree is kept up after Christmas, the more likely it is to dry out and ignite. With this concern in mind, the National Fire Protection Association strongly encourages people to remove Christmas trees from their homes promptly after the holiday season.

“All Christmas trees can burn, but a dried-out tree can become engulfed in flames in a matter of seconds,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “In a year where many people began decorating their homes earlier than usual, trees have been in homes longer than usual, presenting an increased fire risk as the days go by.”

NFPA’s latest Christmas Tree Fires report, which reflects annual averages between 2014 and 2018, shows that 160 home structure fires began with Christmas trees, resulting in two civilian deaths, 14 civilian injuries, and $10.3 million in direct property damage. According to the report, fires that begin with Christmas trees are a very small but notable part of the U.S. fire problem, considering that they are generally in use for a short time each year.

“While we know Christmas tree fires don’t occur very often compared to other types of home fires, deadly incidents involving multiple people, including young children, have been reported in recent years,” said Carli. “Our goal is to minimize the likelihood of these kinds of tragedies from happening.”

Because some Christmas tree fires occur in chimneys or flues, which suggests that people may burn the tree to dispose of it, the U.S. Forest Service offers this caution: “Never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove! Pines, firs and other evergreens have a high content of flammable turpentine oils and burning the tree may contribute to creosote buildup and risk a chimney fire.”

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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