Preventing Christmas Tree Fires
Christmas Tree Fire Hazards
- Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when
keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly
fill a room with fire and deadly gases.
Selecting a Tree for the Holiday
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back
from the branches, and the needle should not break if the
tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the
touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree
trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has
been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire
Caring for Your Tree
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a
fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree,
causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or
sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near
a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it
up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled
with water at all times.
Disposing of Your Tree
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or
woodburning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it
promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking
it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a
community pick-up service.
Maintain Your Holiday Lights
Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare
spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets,
and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use
only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
Do not link more than three light strands, unless the
directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to
an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.
Make sure to periodically check the wires - they should not
be warm to the touch.
Do Not Leave Holiday Lights on
Use Only Nonflammable Decorations
All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant
and placed away from heat vents.
Never Put Wrapping Paper in a
It can throw off dangerous sparks and produce a chemical
buildup in the home that could cause an explosion.
Artificial Christmas Trees
If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it
is flame retardant.
Avoid Using Lit Candles
If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and
place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never
leave the house with candles burning.
Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree
Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame -
candles, lighters or matches.
Finally, as in every season, have working smoke
alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly
and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all
times. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to
practice your home escape plan.