Don’t Let Holiday Decorations Become Hazards

The holiday season is upon us, and with it brings cozy decorations intended for joy and celebration. These candles, lights and greenery can quickly become a hazard if left unattended – potentially leading to a dangerous and devastating fire loss.

Here are some helpful tips to keep your holiday glowing safely:

  • If you celebrate with a Christmas tree, place it at least 36 inches from a heat source, make sure your lights are updated with modern safety features and do not get hot, and be sure to unplug the lights before going to bed or leaving home. If you have a “real” tree, be sure to choose one as fresh as possible and water it daily to avoid excessive drying – essentially turning it into a match.
  • Do not overload a power strip to plug in all your holiday decorations, and never use a power strip to plug in space heaters. Keep cords organized and away from traveled paths leading to a tripping hazard.
  • Never leave candles unattended. Keep adequate space between lit candles and decorations, particularly stockings hung by the chimney with care. Choose flameless candles and eliminate the worry and risk altogether!
  • Use a proper ladder to reach high spaces when putting up lights – no office chairs, kitchen chairs, chairs with casters/wheels, or climbing on furniture – and secure with appropriate hooks, etc. Do no staple through a cord.
  • Inspect light strands for signs of damage prior to putting them up on your home, tree or other holiday decorations. It also saves a lot of hassle if you test them before going to the trouble to arrange them. Do not “fix” a worn cord with tape – dispose and replace!

Our friends at the National Fire Protection Association has these additional Winter Holiday Fire Facts:

  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 790 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees. These fires caused an annual average of one civilian fire death, 26 civilian fire injuries and $13 million in direct property damage.
  • Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in more than two in five home Christmas tree fires. 
  • Nearly one in five Christmas tree fires were started by lamps or bulbs. Six percent were started by candles.
  • Roughly two of every five home Christmas tree fires started in the living room.
  • Candle fires peak in December and January with 11 percent of candle fires in each of these months.
  • Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
  • Year round, more than one-third (35 percent) of home decoration fires were started by candles. This jumped to almost half in December when candles started 45 percent of such fires. Cooking started one-fifth (19%) of decoration fires.


Additional Resources:

American Red Cross: 10 ways to stay safe while decorating for the holidays Holiday Decorations Safety Tips