BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — As Christmas approaches, a Mandeville family-owned business and the Baton Rouge Fire Department share the potential safety risks, higher tree costs, and explain why real trees are harder to find this season.

Coming out of the pandemic, Christmas trees are in high demand. The problem now is finding a real tree. There’s a nationwide shortage. Like everything else this year, the average cost of a Christmas tree is up. Higher fuel, fertilizer, labor costs, climate change, and fewer trees being grown are all contributing factors.

“It takes a while to grow these trees, and you can try to project what needs to be cut and what people are actually going to buy,” said Jody Estain, a salesman at A’s Toy Soldier Christmas Tree. “Once you cut them… You know – you got to replace them and then you got to figure out at the end of the year what worked and what didn’t work.”

Estain and his family own A’s Toy Soldier Christmas Trees in Baton Rouge. He says there are a number of things to think about when it comes to buying a tree, ceiling height, placement inside the home, and decorations on top of the tree.

“If you’re going to go in a corner and it’s a very – like a narrow area by a television or walkway going through the kitchen or staircase going upstairs you want a fairly skinny tree,” said Estain.

Safety officials say too much sunlight and no water can damage your tree.

“Especially if you’re using a real tree, and it’s green, you want to keep it watered. Make sure the tree doesn’t dry out,” said Curt Monte, PIO at Baton Rouge Fire Department.

Monte with the Baton Rouge Fire Department says lights, candles, and other electrical equipment are the leading cause of Christmas tree fires at home. Be sure to inspect all your lights. Make sure they’re not cracked. They have indoor and outdoor lights. Using the proper lights is key.

“Trees can up very quickly and the home can be engulfed in flames in just a matter of minutes. So you want to make sure that if you have your tree lit, you unplug it at night,” said Monte.

There are pros and cons to buying a real tree as opposed to an artificial one. Estain says the experience and family memories you create while picking out a real tree are irreplaceable.

“You get more into the spirit. The aroma, the act of coming down as a family, and picking out that special tree that will make that special year for Christmas,” said Estain.

Estain says A’s Toy Soldier Christmas Trees is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. rain or shine. They’re located at 9440 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70810.

When it’s time to get rid of your tree, Estain says local trash pick-up will collect them off your street. Be sure to check with the garbage disposal company in your area.

Additional Safety Tips

  • Limit your sunlight
  • Make sure your tree is watered
  • Keep trees away from small children and animals
  • Keep trees at least 3ft away from heat and open flames
  • Don’t block any exits
  • Inspect your lights before you place them on your tree
  • Unplug your tree at night