Health & Environment

Protect Your Home From Fires Over The Holidays

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts say candles, wiring and live Christmas trees are among the potential hazards.
By Paul Schattenberg, Texas A&M AgriLife Communications December 4, 2020

red candles burning on christmas tree
Some decor can pose fire hazards during the holiday season. Lit candles, for example, should never be used as tree decorations.

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Some of the decorative staples of the holiday season can bring increased fire danger to the home.

“Fires are among the most common home-related dangers to be aware of during the holidays,” said Joyce Cavanagh, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service family and community health specialist, Bryan-College Station.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day have been identified by the National Fire Protection Association as the three days of the year during which most candle fires occur.

Holiday Fire Hazards

“In addition to candle fires, electrical fires and Christmas tree fires are also possible,” Cavanagh said. “Christmas tree fires, in particular, have the potential to do serious damage to the home or cause injury to its occupants.”

She offers the follow tips for avoiding fires:

  • Keep candles at least one foot away from flammable items or surfaces.
  • Do not put candles directly on surfaces. Use a sturdy candle holder with drip plate.
  • Blow out candles when you leave the home or go to bed. Avoid using candles in the bedroom or other areas where people may fall asleep.
  • Replace candles before they burn all the way down or before the flame gets too close to the holder or container.
  • Keep lit candles in sight and away from areas where they may be knocked over.
  • In the event of a power outage, use flashlights or other battery-powered lighting instead of candles.
  • Use electric lights tested by an independent testing laboratory and place them only where appropriate.
  • If purchasing an artificial tree, choose one labeled fire-resistant.
  • Replace old or worn-out Christmas tree lights and turn lights off when leaving home or going to bed.
  • Never use lit candles as tree decorations.

Cavanagh said that those who choose to have a live Christmas tree in their home should select one with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

“Be sure to regularly add water daily to the tree-stand reservoir, and make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source and isn’t blocking a door or exit,” she said.

This article by Paul Schattenberg originally appeared on AgriLife Today.

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