Holiday Fire Safety

Holiday decorations, candles and trees are a great way to get in the holiday spirit, but they also cause an increased risk of home fires. Here are some tips to keep your home festive and safe this holiday season.

Christmas tree fire prevention and safety

  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut two inches from the base of the trunk to ensure the tree properly absorbs water
  • Place the tree at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand daily.
  • Use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory and safe for indoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect safely.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency:

  • Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires each year. Almost one-third of home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems.
  • A heat source too close to the tree causes more than one in every five of these fires.

Dangers of a dry Christmas tree

As Christmas trees dry out, they become increasingly flammable and dangerous. Trees that are watered daily are much safer. This dramatic video demonstrates what happens when fire touches a dry tree versus a properly maintained, well-watered tree.

Thirty percent of Christmas tree fires take place in January, so it’s important to take down your Christmas tree in a timely manner. Search the database at RecycleSpot to find a place to drop off your tree for recycling in the Greater Kansas City area.

Candle safety

December is the peak time of year for home candle fires, with Christmas being the top day for candle fires. Three of every five home candle fires happen when a candle is placed too close to something that can burn. Here are some tips to use candles safely during the holiday season:

  • Candles should be placed in a sturdy candle holder placed on a secure, uncluttered surface.
  • Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
  • When lighting candles at a candle lighting service, have the person with the unlit candle dip their candle into the flame of the lit candle.
  • Lit candles should not be placed in windows where a blind or curtain could catch fire.
  • Candles placed on, or near tables, altars, or shrines, must be watched by an adult.
  • If a candle must burn continuously, be sure it is enclosed in a glass container and placed in a sink, on a metal tray, or in a deep basin filled with water.

Have a fire safety plan

In addition to these prevention measures, make sure you have a fire safety plan in place for your home. Share your plan with your family and guests to make sure everyone stays safe. Visit or fire safety plan page for more information.


Thanks to the NFPA and US Fire Administration for providing the safety tips and statistics used in this article.

Phone: 816-474-4240
600 Broadway, Suite 200
Kansas City, MO 64105
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