By Carolyn Gusoff

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The availability of Christmas trees is limited this year, as demand is up but not supply.

However, rushing out to buy a real tree early can bring serious fire dangers, unless the tree is properly maintained, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Wednesday.

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Thanksgiving shoppers are scooping up fresh pies and produce, while another rush is on for fresh Christmas trees.

“We like to get a nice big tree. So the sooner you go, the better the trees,” one person said.

Experts say to buy early because inventory may be limited. Growers say there isn’t a shortage, but there won’t be a lot of leftovers.

“We really have never had a shortage. What we have had the last few years is a tighter supply,” said Doug Hundley of the National Christmas Tree Association.

He said that’s due to fewer trees planted during the recession more than a decade ago.

“Christmas trees take 10 years to grow. We can’t manufacture them in a year,” Hundley said.

Stew Leonard’s is bracing for a rush, and offered the following advice:

“Once the sap starts drying out, that’s when the tree becomes compromised,” store director Felix Rodriguez said. “We give it a fresh cut, which opens up the bottom of the tree. Immediately, we do recommend that you put in it water.”

It’s the early buying that has fire experts concerned.

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A dried out tree can turn into an inferno in seconds.

“Bounce it on the ground, see if it has any needle drop. If it has a lot of needle drop, don’t buy it,” said Chief John Murray of the Nassau County Firefighters Museum.

Keep the tree out of the sunlight and in a bucket out of the house.

“Keep it hydrated. Always make sure there is water in that container. They should not put these things in the house this early and that is what we are afraid of, because they should only be in the house 10 to 14 days,” Murray said.

Whether you plan to use new LED led or old lights, check for cracks. Most Christmas tree fires start from cracked wires, experts say.

As for additives, “It’s pretty much electrolytes. It’s like Gatorade for trees,” Rodriguez said.

“Just water is great. Water is all you need,” Hundley added.

Whatever it drinks, just make sure the tree stays hydrated.

Relief is in sight. Gowers began planting heavily since 2012, so supplies are expected to be on the upswing for next Christmas.

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Chanukah begins Sunday night. Fire officials are also reminding folks to never to leave holiday candles unattended or near curtains and furniture.

Carolyn Gusoff