Maintain A Fire Safe Home This Christmas Season

Christmas Tree Fires

  • Thirty-six percent of home Christmas tree structure fires occurred on the ten days between December 24 and January 2
  • Electrical problems were factors in nearly half (45%) of home Christmas tree structure fires
  • A heat source was too close to the Christmas tree in one quarter (26%) of the fires
  • Twenty-three percent of home Christmas tree fires involved decorative lights
  • Candles started 14% of home Christmas tree structure fires.
  • Half of all home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den
  • An average of 460 outside or unclassified Christmas tree fires occurred on home properties. Fifty-nine percent occurred in January; 86% were intentionally set

Holiday or Decorative Light Fires

  • Line-voltage holiday or decorative lights or were involved in an average of 170 home structure fires per year, resulting in an average of
    • 7 civilian deaths,
    • 17 civilian injuries, and
    • $7.9 million in direct property damage
  • Forty-two percent of these fires were reported in December and 13% occurred in January
  • In one-fifth (21%) of these fires, Christmas trees were the item first ignited.
  • Electrical problems were factors in 67% of these fires.
  • Something that could burn was too close to the lights in 10% of the fires.
  • Roughly 5,800 people per year were treated at hospital emergency rooms for falls associated with holiday decorations

The following fire safety tips can help you maintain a fire-safe home this Christmas season

Tips For Preventing Residential Fires

  • · Install smoke alarms on every floor of the home, including the basement, and particularly near rooms in which people sleep.
  • · Test all smoke alarms every month to ensure they work properly.
  • · Devise a family fire escape plan and practice it every 6 months. In the plan, describe at least two different ways each family member can escape every room, and designate a safe place in front of the home for family members to meet after escaping a fire.
  • · Select a fresh Christmas tree that is kept in water at all times. Needles on fresh trees should be green and should not fall off easily. Don’t put your tree up too early or leave it up longer than two weeks. Dried out Christmas trees can ignite easily and boost a fire by spreading it rapidly to nearby combustible materials.
  • · Place your Christmas tree in a safe place, away from heat sources such as a fireplace or heat vent.
  • · Maintain your holiday lights. Inspect your lights before you use them to ensure they don’t have frayed wires, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets or excessive wear. Only use lighting that is listed by an approved testing laboratory and don’t leave the lights on when you’re not home.
  • · Avoid overloading electrical outlets. Don’t link more than three light strands unless the directions indicate it is safe. Periodically check the wires. They should not be warm to the touch.
  • · Use only nonflammable decorations that are placed away from heat vents and if you’re using an artificial tree, make sure that it’s flame retardant.
  • · Avoid using candles. If you do use candles, ensure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down.
  • · Do not leave lit candles unattended, never put candles on a Christmas tree and never leave the house with candles burning. Place menorahs away from vents or flammable materials.
  • · It’s also important to know that fires caused by children increase during the holiday season. According to our National Fire Incident Reporting System, children cause nearly 60 house fires a day in mid-December, with another sharp increase on New Year’s Day. Parents should take precautions to prevent such avoidable tragedies.

Carefully decorating Christmas trees can help make your holidays safer

Watch a Christmas tree fire

This NFPA/UL video demonstrates the flammability of a dry Christmas tree vs. a tree that has been watered regularly.

These are some frightening statistics.  Done Right would like to urge Minnesota homeowners to use caution when celebrating your Christmas this year!  Keep your family safe this Holiday season. Have an emergency plan and practice it regularly.

Have A Safe & Happy Holiday!

Christmas Tree Fact Sheet

Download these NFPA safety tips on Christmas trees. (PDF, 1 MB)