Holiday Fire Prevention Tips: Candles, Tree, Lights, and Fireplaces

Posted on 12/12/2018 7:48:52 AM

With the holiday season in full swing, the Emergency Management Office is encouraging everyone to take precautions to ensure that they and their staff and families remain safe and injury-free throughout this festive time of year.

About 3,400 deaths were caused by fires, burns, and other fire-related injuries in 2017, according to the National Fire Protection Association. December is the peak calendar time for home candle fires, with fires jumping 1.5 times the national monthly average. Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are the top three days for candle fires in America. According to the United States Fire Administration, this year alone, candles will cause an estimated 15,600 residential fires (an average of 25 per day) and $539 million in direct property damage. On average, 115 people die annually from home candle fires and another 903 are injured, according to the NFPA.


  • Place lit candles at least 12 inches away from decorations and other things that can burn, and keep them away from areas where they might be knocked or blown over. 
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended.
  • Always use a candle holder that is sturdy, heat resistant, and big enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Never move a candle while it’s burning. 
  • Keep candles, matches, and lighters out of the reach of children. 


  • When purchasing an artificial tree, choose one that is tested and labeled as fire resistant. Those with built-in electrical systems should have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label. 
  • When purchasing a natural tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and needles don’t break when bent between your fingers.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it at least three feet away from fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents, and portable heaters. Make sure it isn’t blocking an exit.
  • If using a natural tree, cut off about two inches of the trunk and place it in a sturdy stand. Keep the stand continually filled with water so the tree doesn’t dry out and become a fire hazard. 


Be aware that some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.

  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords don’t get damaged.
  • Use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord. 
  • When stringing lights and decorations outside your reach, use a proper ladder with someone supporting the base. 


  • Before lighting a fireplace, remove all decorations from the area. Also, check to see that the flue is open. 
  • Keep a screen in front of the fireplace when a fire is burning.
  • If a glass-fronted gas fireplace is used, keep people away from it with a screen or gate. The glass doors can get hot enough to cause serious burns and stay hot long after the fire is out. 

Avoid the 12 Dangers of Christmas

Avoid the 12 Dangers of Christmas!

  1. Do not use electronics near water.
  2. Never sleep with electronics under your pillow.
  3. Keep batteries safely stored in their packaging; they can be deadly if swallowed.
  4. Do not leave space heaters unattended when in use.
  5. Keep decorations at least three feet away from any open flame.
  6. Never play with fire.
  7. Do not run cords under carpets, rugs, furniture, or out of windows.
  8. Do not overload outlets.
  9. Sometimes less is more; be careful not to over-decorate.
  10. Always turn off decorations when you’re sleeping or leaving your home.
  11. Inspect all decorations, and discard any that are damaged or torn.
  12. Keep your natural Christmas tree hydrated and water it daily.