Holiday Fire Safety Tips

Tree Safety

  • When you buy your tree, have the vendor make a fresh cut an inch from the bottom; this will help the tree drink.
  • If you buy your tree early and keep it outside, store it away from wind and sun, and keep the bottom in a bucket of water.
  • Flocked trees are flame retardant; however, use the same safety practices as you would with a live unflocked tree. During holiday use, the flocking can become displaced from the branches exposing dry and brittle needles.
  • Make sure your lights are safe. If you need outdoor lights, make sure the ones you buy are meant for outdoor use. Make sure your lights carry certification from a testing laboratory.
  • Unplug your Christmas tree before you leave or go to bed.
  • Don't buy a tree that is dry and dropping needles. To check for freshness, loosely grip the end of a branch and pull your hand over it. Only a few needles should fall off.
  • Make sure your tree stand holds plenty of water, and don't let it run out.
  • If your tree seems wobbly, center it in the stand more securely and redo the bolts or screws.
  • If your tree stand is too small, buy a larger, stronger one.
  • If you buy an artificial tree, make sure it is fire-retardant.
  • Keep your tree at least three feet from furnaces, radiators and fireplaces.
  • Try to position it near an outlet so that cords are not running long distances. Do not place the tree where it may block exits.
  • Keep a close eye on small children when they are around the tree; many small decorations and ornaments are sharp, breakable and can be swallowed.
  • When Christmas is over or when the tree starts to drop needles, dispose of it. Don't leave it in your house or put it in your garage.
  • After your family's celebrations, remove the tree and dispose of it properly. Contact your garbage disposal service to learn the details of their holiday tree removal program.

Candle Safety

  • Candles should only be used when an adult is present and awake. Never use lighted candles on or near a Christmas tree or other evergreens.
  • Keep candles at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including other decorations and wrapping paper.
  • Always use stable, nonflammable candle holders with a hurricane glass to protect the open flame.
  • Place candles where they will not be knocked down or blown over and out of reach of pets and young children.
  • If you have children in your home, store candles, matches and lighters out of their sight and reach.
  • To eliminate the risk of an open candle flame, use battery-powered candles whenever possible, especially when you combine candles with greenery or other decorations.
  • Blow out all candles before going to sleep or leaving the room.

Holiday Decorations Safety

  • Check all tree lights, even if you have just purchased them. Make sure all bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights and a person touching the tree can be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check the labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. Do not use nails or tacks to secure lights.
  • Plug all outdoor decorations into circuits with a ground fault circuit interrupter to avoid potential shock.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed.
  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree.
  • Remove all wrapping paper, bags, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened.

Fireplace Safety

  • Never burn charcoal or use a hibachi in your fireplace. Both produce deadly carbon monoxide.
  • Protect against sparks by enclosing a fireplace's opening with glass doors or a sturdy screen.
  • Never close the flue while a fire is still smoldering as Carbon monoxide can build up.
  • Never use gasoline, kerosene or lighter fluid to start a fire. Burn only dry, seasoned hardwood.
  • For extra safety, light fires with long-stemmed matches.
  • Have your fireplace and chimney inspected annually. They should be properly vented and free of blockages. Have the fireplace cleaned as needed.
  • Protect the top of your chimney with a guard that keeps out birds and small animals and keeps in sparks that could ignite your roof.
  • Keep flammables such as newspapers, magazines, rugs and carpeting well away from the fireplace.
  • Remove holiday decorations from the fireplace and mantle before building a fire to avoid having the decorations ignite.
  • Teach children to stay back from the fireplace.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Have a fire extinguisher readily available for use.