You Too Can Prevent Christmas Fires

prevent christmas firesIf you are a Mythbusters fan, you already know the answer to the question of whether or not tested and approved Christmas lights, even on a very dry tree, can cause fires. That answer, surprisingly, is no- the myth was busted.  However, before you start loading your overly dry evergreen with string after string of bright, twinkling, red-hot lights, let’s look at some statistics.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 240 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 150 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year. Together, these fires result in 21 deaths and $25.2 million in direct property damage. Yikes. So although Christmas lights plus a Christmas tree do not automatically equal a fire, it is obvious that we still need to be very careful with our holiday decorations to prevent Christmas fires.

The most common causes of Christmas fires are shorts in electrical lights, or open flames from candles, lighters, or matches that come in contact with a dry and neglected tree. The following are a few simple fire-safety tips that can help ensure that your Christmas tree and other holiday decorations do not become dangerous fire hazards:

Top 10 Ways to Prevent Christmas Fires (in no particular order):

1. Use only lights listed by a testing laboratory when decorating your tree. Some lights are designed only for indoor or outdoor use, not both. Larger tree lights should also have some type of reflector rather than a bare bulb.

2. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use tree lights. Any string of lights with loose bulb connections, or worn, frayed or broken cords should not be used. Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe.

3. Always unplug Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

4. Never put wrapping paper in the fireplace.

5. Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.

6. Do not purchase a tree that is dry or dropping needles- check for fresh, green needles. Once home, place your tree in a sturdy tree stand designed not to tip over. Give live trees plenty of water daily, keeping them as moist as possible.

7. If you purchase an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled fire-retardant.

8. Keep a watchful eye on children when around the tree. Do not allow them to play with the wiring or lights. Store matches and lighters up high, out of reach, preferably in a locked drawer or cabinet.

9. Make sure the tree is at least three feet (one meter) away from any heat source, such as fireplaces and radiators. Try to position the tree near an outlet so that cords are not running long distances. Do not place the tree where it may block exits.

10. Safely dispose of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are highly flammable and should not be left in the house, garage, or alongside the house.

The above list is not meant to be an exhaustive one. There are many other suggestions given by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) to ensure a safe and happy Christmas season. Please visit their website at for more information. From all of us here at Joe Taylor Restoration, we wish you and your loved ones a joyful, fire-free holiday season and a favorable and prosperous new year!