Holiday Fire Safety Tips

December 23, 2019

Fire safety might be far from your mind this holiday season, but many people’s favorite Christmas traditions pose serious fire threats. From decking the halls to trimming the tree, Christmastime comes with many activities that increase the risk of house fires, injuries and deaths. From 2013 to 2017, an average of 160 house fires per year started with Christmas trees alone. This year, keep your family safe while celebrating the season with a few general fire prevention tips.

Tend to the Tree

Christmas trees are a leading cause of holiday fires, property destruction and burn injuries every year. Christmas trees, especially those that have dried up, can serve as excellent kindling if something sets a spark. Combined with faulty electrical wires and poor fire safety, a dry Christmas tree can prove extremely dangerous to a household. Practice good Christmas tree fire safety to prevent a disaster this holiday season.

  • Inspect last year’s Christmas lights. Check old lights for frayed or damaged cords, exposed wires, or cracked plugs. Discard damaged lights. Always unplug your Christmas tree before going to bed.
  • Do not overload circuits. Poor electrical distribution contributes to many devastating Christmas tree fires, as it can set the spark that lights a fire. Distribute power sources evenly when lighting your tree.
  • Do not use real candles. Never put open flames from candles or fireplaces too near your Christmas tree. Choose safer electric options instead and keep your tree a safe distance away.
  • Water your tree daily. Keep a natural Christmas tree well-watered to prevent it from dying and drying. A dried-out tree can catch fire and combust much faster than a well-watered tree.

Tree fires cause an average of 15 injuries, 3 deaths and over $10 million in property damage every year. Help prevent deadly Christmas tree fires by decorating and tending to your tree with safety in mind. If your tree has dried out, take it down, even if it does not make it to Christmas Day. Consider purchasing a flame-retardant faux Christmas tree if you believe a real tree is too much of a fire hazard for your family.

Deck the Halls Safely

Decorating your home for the holidays can set the pace for the whole season. Make sure you set yourself up for a safe and carefree Christmas, not one riddled with burn injury risks. While decking the halls, avoid fire hazards such as real candles, dried flowers and papier-mâché. Do not put anything flammable, including curtains and your Christmas tree, near sources of heat or electricity, such as space heaters or candles. Do not use indoor Christmas lights on the exterior of your home, as they could spark a deadly fire. Never use décor that blocks the exits of your home.

Supervise Holiday Cooking

Kitchen fires are another common cause of Christmastime house fires. Cooking fires cause thousands of house fires and burn injuries per year. Christmas Day is the second most dangerous day of the year for home cooking fires, behind Thanksgiving. Cooking equipment is the leading cause of kitchen fires, responsible for 49% of related home fires. Always supervise the cooking for Christmas meals. Do not leave any cooking food or appliances unattended. Unattended cooking food contributed to 31% of home cooking fires from 2013 to 2017. Keep combustible items such as paper towels, decorations, aprons and oven mitts away from stovetop surfaces while you cook. Keep children safely out of the kitchen.

Prepare for Anything

Christmas is not the time to become lax with general household fire safety. Check all smoke detectors and fire alarms for working batteries. Look at the expiration dates on all fire extinguishers. Practice your fire emergency evacuation plan with your children. Teach them how to stop, drop and roll if anything catches their clothes on fire. Keep all fire hazards, including candles, matches and fireworks, out of reach of children. You may have the power to prevent a serious home fire this holiday season. Celebrate in safety by following these Christmas fire prevention tips.