picture of flameless candles

Fire Safety During the Holidays

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Holiday fires are a common occurrence during the holiday season. The most common causes of holiday-related fires are candles and Christmas trees.

Candle Fires

picture of flameless candles

The time of the year for the most home candle fires is December, with Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day the top three days of the year for home candle fires. During December, 11% of fires start from decorations, compared with only 4% the rest of the year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. 56% of home candle fires occur when something that can catch on fire is too close to the candle.

To prevent fires started from candles:

  • Another option is to use battery-operated, flameless candles. They look and smell like real candles, but without the danger of an open flame. Never leave a burning candle unattended.
  • Keep candles at least 1 foot away from anything that can burn.
  • Use a sturdy candleholder on a stable, uncluttered surface.
  • Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
  • Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to sleep.

Christmas Tree Fires

Every year, there are around 230 house fires that start from Christmas trees. These fires cause an average of 6 deaths, 22 injuries, and $18.3 million in direct property damage annually, according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA).

  • One-third of Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems (U.S. Fire Adminstration).
  • One out of every 6 Christmas tree fires is caused by having a heat source, such as candles, heat vents, radiators, or fireplaces, too close to the Christmas tree (NFPA).
  • On average, one of every 40 reported home fires that begins with a Christmas tree results in a death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home fires.

If you have a live Christmas tree, make sure you water your tree daily. Dispose of your tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Also, have your tree at least 3 feet away from any heat source, such as fireplaces, radiators, candles, or heat vents. Never use lit candles to decorate a tree, and turn off lights when going to bed.

Fire safety is very important during the holiday season. Candles and Christmas trees are major sources of fires over the holidays – prevent fires by following the above safety tips. Consider celebrating and decorating using battery-operated candles and artifical trees. We hope you celebrate the holidays safely!

For more safety tips, check out our other holiday-related blog posts, Deck the Halls Safely and 
5 Tips for Safe Holiday Shopping.

Sources: U.S. Fire Administration – Outreach materials and educational programs, NFPA – Christmas Tree FiresNFPA – Candle Safety Tips

Updated May 20, 2020