Between 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 230 home fires annually that started with Christmas trees. These fires caused an average of 6 deaths, 22 injuries and $18.3 million in direct property damage annually, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Christmas Tree Fire Facts:
- One of every three home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical failures
- Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious
- A heat source too close to the tree causes roughly one in every six of the fires
- Two of every five home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room or den
- On average, one of every 40 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home fires.
However, Christmas trees are only one of the many ways home fires can start during the holiday and winter season. From fireplaces to candles to space heaters to lighted decorations, holiday cheer can quickly turn to holiday fear in a matter of seconds.
Courtesy of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
This NFPA/UL video demonstrates the flammability of a dry Christmas tree vs. a tree that has been watered regularly.
- Make sure artificial trees are labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant
- For live trees, select ones with green needles that don’t fall off when touched
- Water live trees frequently – dry trees are very combustible and easily set afire
- Set up tree at least three feet away from heat sources (fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents, etc.)
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulbs
- Do not connect more than three strands of lights
- Never use lit candles to decorate a tree
- Get rid of live trees when they begin dropping needles – do not try to burn in your fireplace. Instead, bring your tree to Roswell’s local recycling program “Bring One for the Chipper” on January 3
- Do not use an excessive amount of firewood
- Use only the recommended amount of chemical fire logs
- Dispose of your fireplace ashes only after a significant time for cooling and only into a metal container that should be kept clear of your home
- Have your fireplace inspected and/or cleaned by a reputable chimney service once a year
- Use space heaters with an automatic shut-off
- Only plug directly into an outlet – not an extension cord
- Place space heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn, including bedding, paper, walls
- Turn off before leaving your home and before going to bed
Candles & Decorations
- Extinguish candles when you are not in the room
- Place candles on sturdy surfaces and away from flammable items
- When putting lights up on your home, do not staple the wires and be sure the wires show no signs of damage
- Do not use decorations in your home that are highly combustible such as hay, straw or dry garland
- Always inspect lights and lighted decorations each year to make sure they are still in good condition
General Fire Safety Tips
- Check smoke detectors every month and change the batteries every six months
- Turn off all lights, candles, space heaters and fireplaces before going to bed or leaving the home
- Have an escape plan for your family and make sure everyone knows what to do in a fire situation
Do you have any questions or comments? Let me know!