Why getting a real Christmas tree too early can be dangerous


Some places are selling Christmas trees — real, living trees — even though Thanksgiving is still a week away. Some experts are saying it’s too early for that.

Stores are already getting into the Christmas spirit. Decorations are for sale, and while trees also are, many of them are artificial.

But, at the lots, like Mistletoe Meadows in Garner, there isn’t a tree in sight. 

“It’s a little too early for that,” said Rudy Hinton of Mistletoe Meadows.

Consumer Sally Sather said she buys a Christmas tree around Dec. 15. Raleigh resident Ronnie Peoples also said he won’t be putting a tree up just yet.

“I usually start Thanksgiving night or the day after,” he said. “That’s the way we’ve always done it in our family.”

Mistletoe Meadows won’t start filling its lot until the day after Thanksgiving. They’ll be bringing in fresh-cut trees from its Laurel Springs farm up in the mountains.

“Some big box trees, they’ve cut them three or four weeks (ago) — maybe longer — and they’re not in the water waiting for someone to buy them,” Hinton said.

Because you only get four or five weeks out of a fresh cut tree, buying one too early can be dangerous. Even if it’s kept in water, it’s not going to be in good shape by Christmas.

“They could dry out and pose a danger with the lights on them,” he said.

Video from the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows how quickly a dry tree will ignite, becoming fully involved within five seconds. 

Trees that are shipped via an open truck to be sold early can be a problem.

“They can dry out quickly, especially in the wind,’’ Hinton said. Since many of those trucks travel down a highways at 65 or 70 mph, the wind drying can be exacerbated.

There is a simple test you can do to see if a tree is going to last.

“You can take a branch of a tree and push it against the grain. If the needles come off it’s not fresh anymore,” says Hinton.

It should be concerning if those needles are falling off.

When buying a tree, make sure you cut about three-quarters of an inch off the base before putting it in water. That fresh cut will help the tree absorb as much water as it can to help it stay as fresh as possible for its four or five weeks inside a home.

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