VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - As the holiday season kicked into full swing, Ron George shelled out tricks and tips for Christmas tree shopping.
For more than 50 years, George has sold Canadian trees at the corner of Rosemont Road and Silna Drive in Virginia Beach.
"We have our trees cut every two weeks up in Nova Scotia, Canada, where these trees come from," George said. "We have three different deliveries so we keep 'em fresh."
George knows a good tree must be more than full. It must be fresh, which is why he buys from a small grower.
"The big wholesalers, the big, big ones will sell two or three million trees," George said. "It's physically impossible for them to cut that many trees in two weeks to deliver them all over the United States, so they cut 'em early and deep-freeze them to hold them over."
George says you should pull on a tree to see if it's fresh cut.
"If you don't get any needles coming off, then you know you got a fresh tree."
George admits identifying freshness is not an exact science, even for someone with his experience.
"Occasionally we'll have a tree come back on us," George said. "However, that's the nature of the beast. Just like buying produce at a store you can buy four tomatoes, one of 'em can be bad."
Make sure the vendor gives your tree a fresh cut before you leave but for this to be an effective way of extending the life of your tree, you have to act fast.
"They need to get it in the water within two hours because if they don't, the tree will re-sap and it won't take anymore water in," George said.
Christmas trees can be dangerous though as house fires often occur during the holiday season.
"Christmas trees will become fully involved in less than ten seconds and it's literally like a blow-torch once they get going," said Tim Riley with the Virginia Beach Fire Department.
A tree stand can help avoid holiday tragedy, as well as adding preservatives to the water.
Riley recommends being aware of power limitations for cords and outlets running electricity to your tree lights.
Madeline Notaro has been helping her customers at the Taylor Di-It Center in the Hilltop section of Virginia Beach avoid disasters for almost a decade.
"Along with electricity you're also carrying heat when you plug something in so you never want to go over that voltage or that wattage," Notaro said.
Notaro also recommends a smoke detector that looks like a tree ornament to stay safe this holiday season.
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