Christmas tree lot educating buyers on preventing tree fires - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Christmas tree lot educating buyers on preventing tree fires

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

Christmas trees: The symbol that Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas holiday is in full effect. With so many gift decisions to make, some people also have to decide between a real tree or a fake one. 

"My wife would kill me if we had a fake tree," said first time tree buyer, Adam Walker. "She grew up with always having real trees in her house and I grew up having artificial trees in my house."

With real trees, come real fire concerns. That's why one tree lot owner in Lake Charles is taking personal responsibility to make sure tree buyers know how to safely care for their tree once they get it home.  

"Am I sure that none of these trees here leaving here could be a cause of someone losing their home?" asked Natalie Robinson. "Because it's devastating."

Natalie runs Cookie's Christmas Tree lot with her husband. They both serve different roles in educating tree buyers on how to properly care for their trees to prevent against fires. 

While she educates each buyer on what to do, her husband and team work to prepare the trees for a healthy holiday life, before they leave the lot. 

"When the tree comes up, we take it and we cut the end of the stump off it because when they cut it the sap seals it and it can't drink any water," explained Jamie Robinson, Natalie's husband and co-owner. "Then after we cut it we drill it, place it in a bowl in a stand, in water."

The Robinsons said that there are tips that Christmas tree shoppers should keep in mind when looking for the perfect tree, like paying attention to the color of the branches to make sure that no color is spray painted on. 

"They're (other lots) disguising that tree being dry," said Natalie. "That's just ... to me, that's bothersome because if you can't see those dry branches and see that it's brown, that right there is a huge fire hazard."

She said that above all, the most important thing to remember when purchasing live trees is to keep them hydrated, just like you would a person. 

"It doesn't take much to ignite a tree that has been dried out," she said. 
 
According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2005 to 2009, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 240 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year.
  
These fires caused an average of 13 deaths, 27 injuries, and $16.7 million in direct property damage annually, according to data from the association.
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