christmas tree safety

A Christmas tree is a beautiful reminder of the holiday season. Did you know that your Christmas tree can also pose a very real fire hazard?

The combination of tree dryness, electrical malfunction with lights and poorly located heating sources can make for a deadly combination. At Restoration Authority, your safety is our top priority. We have put together a list of safety tips to keep in mind for your tree.

Leading causes of Christmas tree fires

According to the NFPA Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in two of every five (40%) home Christmas tree fires.

  • Decorative lights were involved in 18%
  • Wiring or related equipment was involved in 13%
  • Cords or plugs were involved in 6%

Electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in one-quarter (25%) of Christmas tree fires. Any type of equipment that uses electricity can have an electrical failure.

One-quarter (24%) of Christmas tree fires were intentional. Almost half (48%) of these intentional fires occurred in January. Heating equipment was involved in 15% of the Christmas tree fires.

  • 6% of Christmas tree fires were started by someone playing with fire.
  • Candles started 8% of home Christmas tree structure fires.
  • In one-quarter (26%) of the Christmas tree fires and in 80% of the deaths, a type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.

Picking the tree

The fresher the tree, the less likely it is to pose a fire hazard. Look for flexible needles that don’t break, and a trunk with sap.

Placing the tree

  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk.
  •  Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. •
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  •  Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting the tree

  • Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off  tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

Keep it watered

The tree stand should contain a continuous source of water. A well hydrated tree is less likely to catch fire than a dry tree.

Christmas trees don’t need warmth

Keep trees away from heat sources such as fireplaces, candles, and tvs.

Artificial tree safety awareness

Artificial trees should be flame resistant and have a seal for an approved safety testing laboratory if the tree contains a built-in lighting set.

Keep a fire extinguisher nearby

Make sure everyone knows its location and how to use it.

After Christmas

Dispose of your  tree after Christmas or when its dry. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should be removed from the home and disposed of immediately. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.


  • More than one of every four home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
  • Although Christmas tree fires aren’t common, when they do occur they are more likely to be serious. A heat source too close to the tree causes one in every four of the fires.

When your tree begins to drop its needles, it’s time to say goodbye until next year. So this year, follow our guidelines to avoid being another statistic in the National Fire Protection Association or United States Fire Administration report during the upcoming holiday season.