Preventing Holiday Fires

During the holiday season, people deck their halls and homes with lights, trees and candles.  But, if you’re not careful, these holiday decorations can be dangerous and even deadly.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), fires occurring during the holidays claim the lives of over 400 Americans; injure 1,650 more and cause over $990 million in damages each year.

By following a few precautionary tips, you can reduce your chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.

Preventing Holiday Fires: Do Not Put Candles in Tree


The USFA reports that Christmas trees account for 200 fires annually, causing six deaths, 25 injuries and more than $6 million in property damages.  If your tree starts burning, it can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.  Click here to watch a video from the Building and Fire Research Laboratory of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to see how quickly a dry tree can burn.

Preventing Tree Fires:

  • Always keep your tree stand filled with water.
  • Keep tree away from fireplaces or heat vents.
  • Do not drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree.
  • Do not leave your tree up longer than two weeks.
  • Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove.
  • Discard your tree when it becomes dry.  Take it to a recycling center or have it hauled away by a community pick-up service.


  • Each year inspect holiday lights for frayed wires, bare spots, broken or cracked sockets, excessive kinking and wear before putting them up.
  • Do not leave holiday lights on when you are not home and turn them off before going to bed.
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets.
  • Connect multiple strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging into an outlet.
  • Check wires periodically.  They should not be warm to the touch.


  • Use only nonflammable or flame-retardant decorations.
  • Keep decorations away from heat vents.
  • Make sure your artificial or metallic tree is flame retardant.
  • Never put wrapping paper in fireplace to avoid a chimney fire.


  • Never put lit candles on a tree.
  • Make sure candles are in stable holders.
  • Place them where they cannot be easily knocked down.
  • Never leave candles burning when you are not home.

The USFA also suggests having working smoke alarms on every level of your home.  Test them monthly to make sure they are working properly.

Angel MedFlight wishes you a safe and happy holiday season.

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