Precautions Prevent Holiday Fires

‘Tis the season for festive treats, family gatherings and holiday décor. To get into the holiday spirit, my family, like many others, celebrates with decorations and additional heating sources that we don’t typically use at other times of the year.

Though it is great fun to celebrate, you also need to take the proper safety precautions to prevent fires and injuries. When you’re decorating your home this holiday season, be sure to keep a watchful eye on all the potential hazards that come along with extra decorations.


Whether you use them on a menorah or just for festive lighting around the house, candles can be a bright ornament, but also a serious fire hazard if not used safely. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), candles cause an estimated 15,600 fires in residential structures, 150 deaths, 1,270 injuries and $539 million in estimated direct property damage each year.

To keep your home safe, never leave burning candles unattended, and always place them out of reach of children. Make it a part of your routine to check that all candles are extinguished before you go to bed each night. Also, as an added precaution, have a fire extinguisher readily available in the home.

Christmas Trees

This holiday staple also can be a serious fire hazard. According to the USFA, Christmas trees account for 200 fires each year, resulting in six deaths, 25 injuries and more than $6 million in property damage.

To avoid this, make sure you place your tree on a sturdy stand, keep the tree away from any heating sources and assign a family member to water the tree each day so that it doesn’t dry out. Again, it also is important to have a fire extinguisher and smoke alarm in case a fire does spark.


Holiday lights also add festive cheer inside and outside the home. But you need to be very careful when adorning your home with lights, especially if they are older, the wrong type, or damaged, as this can cause an electrical problem. Every year more than 50,000 home fires are caused by electrical problems, according to the Home Safety Council.

Before use, read the package label to be sure you are using the appropriate indoor or outdoor lights that have been tested and approved by an independent testing laboratory. If you have an older home, I think it’s a smart idea to have an electrician perform a professional check-up before loading up your outlets.

The holidays are a time for joy and celebration, so make sure you are taking the proper safety precautions to keep what matters most – your family and friends – safe from fire hazards this season.

Debbie Hanson is a safety expert with First Alert.