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Christmas Tree Fire Risk and Safety Tips


It’s the most wonderful time of the year – except for those affected by Christmas tree fires. People tend to forget that Christmas trees, if not kept fully hydrated, are susceptible to fires when lights and ornaments are used for decoration. Don’t forget to water your holiday tree, to prevent them from drying up and become highly-flammable.

In light of the recent wildfires in California, the California Fire Attorneys of Nadrich & Cohen would like to provide some helpful tips for staying safe this holiday season to prevent the devastation and loss of a fire.

Between 2011 and 2015, the United States averaged 200 Christmas tree fires each year. These fires resulted in $14.8 million in property damage annually. They also caused an average of 16 injuries and six deaths each year. This means that 1 in 32 Christmas tree fires results in a death.

Forty percent of these fires were caused by lighting equipment or electrical distribution. In 26 percent of the fires, a heat source, such as a candle, was too close to the tree. The use of candles as decoration were responsible for 80% of Christmas Tree fire deaths.

Most Christmas tree fires happened in the month of December or January, when 42 percent and 37 percent of fires occurred, respectively. Thirty-seven percent of Christmas tree fires occur in the home’s den, family room or living room.

Safety Tips

While a Christmas tree fire is always a risk when lights and decoration are added, you don’t have to end your decorating tradition just yet. By following a few simple precautions, you can safely celebrate the holidays with a beautifully decorated tree.

  • Choose a fresh Christmas tree. Make sure the needles are green, as this indicates that the tree is healthy. Avoid purchasing a tree with a lot of dry needles.
  • Keep the tree adequately watered. Check the water level daily. Make sure it does not go below the bottom of the trunk.
  • Location is important. Keep the tree in the coolest place possible, away from wood stoves, fireplaces and other heat sources.
  • Remove the tree promptly after the holidays. Don’t keep the tree until January and beyond. Many fires start during this time because the tree’s needles become more dry and brittle, increasing fire risk. Ideally, you should remove the tree from the home right after Christmas.
  • Use the appropriate lights. Indoor lights are meant to be used inside the home, while outdoor lights for outside only. Use the lights as indicated.
  • Don’t repair broken lights. If the wires are cracked or the light sockets are broken, don’t try to fix it. Instead, throw away the lights and replace them.
  • Use flame resistant decorations. Don’t use paper or synthetic fabric decorations, as they are more likely to cause a fire. Choose glass or ceramic decorations if possible as they are more resistant to catching fire.
  • Do not leave lights on 24/7. If you’re not going to be home, turn off the lights. Only turn them on if you’ll be around in case a fire starts.

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