TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) -- Though some families still prefer artificial trees for Christmas, real ones are still very popular in north Mississippi.
Finding that perfect Christmas tree can be a bit of a challenge each year, as well as maintaining one once you take it home.
Experts say placement remains one of the most important things to consider for a natural tree, because of potential hazards nearby.
"You want to be able to keep them away from a heat vent and not too close to the fireplace. Sparks can get them," Mid-South Nursery owner Byron Fellows said. "These trees are dead. They've been cut. They're dead, but you want to keep them as 'alive' as best you can."
In fact, the single biggest way your tree can catch fire is from being too dry, which means tree owners should water it daily.
Fellows said another way to extend the tree's lifespan over the Christmas holiday is by performing what's called a fresh cut on the tree's trunk.
"The fresh cut will allow them to take in more moisture and it'll keep it fresh for a while," Fellows said.
It also means you need to get it into a stand with water within an hour of that fresh cut to keep it hydrated.
Tupelo Fire Marshal Cathy Gault said Christmas lights also increase the risk of fire because of oft-overlooked problems.
"Make sure all the strands don't have any cracks or frays in the wiring. Make sure all the bulbs are working. If [you] need to replace bulbs, do that," Gault said.
The type of lights you buy can also make a difference.
For example, outdoor types tend to burn hotter than those made for indoor usage.
And don't plug up too many strands, Gault said, because that could also create a fire hazard.
"We have a timer for our lights, so we try to make sure we don't have lights on all night long," Tupelo resident Howard Dudley said.
Gault said one should always have a fire escape plan and working smoke detectors in the house, just in case something happens.
May sound like a lot of work, but these guidelines echo one very important aspect of buying a real tree: it's not a purchase one should take lightly.