Fire Risk: Christmas Decor

Lit houses and trees are hallmarks of Christmas, but these decorations pose fire risks. According to the National Fire Protection Association (“NFPA”), “Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in two out of every five (40%) home Christmas tree fires.”

Another alarming statistic is related to the number of Christmas decor-related fires to which U.S. fire departments responded within a 5-year span. The NFPA disclosed, “Between 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 200 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 840 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees, in 2011-2015.”

Given these statistics, we recommend the following to ensure your festive celebrations remain safe:

  • If you choose to put up an artificial Christmas tree, be sure to select one that is tested and labeled as fire resistant. Verify that the tree has the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label if it is pre-lit.
  • If you use a real tree, ensure it is well watered so that dry branches do not catch fire.
  • Place your Christmas tree away from fireplaces, radiators, and other sources of heat.
  • Do not place your tree near an exit.
  • Install indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors; they should not be used interchangeably.
  • Avoid the use of nails when hanging lights as they can damage the cords; clips offer a sale alternative.
  • Check your light sets for broken or cracked sockets, frayed wires, broken or worn cords, and loose connections prior to installation. Replace strings of lights as necessary.
  • Do not install more than three light sets per extension cord.
  • All lights should be turned off when you go to bed or leave the house.
  • Extension cords should be unplugged when not in use.


Source: The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and National Safety Council (NSC)