With Thanksgiving now behind us, many of us have begun the annual tradition of putting up Christmas trees in our homes. While these trees are a stunning addition to our holiday decorations, they can cause home fires if left untended. To avoid disaster, remember the following tips from the National Fire Protection Association:

  • Choose a tree with fresh needles, as dry trees are more likely to catch fire.
  • Place your tree away from sources of heat that could start a fire, such as candles or space heaters.
  • Buy string lights approved for indoor use.
  • Check old string lights for frayed wires and broken bulbs. Replace lights accordingly.
  • Turn off the string lights when leaving home or going to bed.
  • Water your tree every day to keep it fresh. Discard the tree once it has dried out.
  • And make sure your cat doesn’t chew on any wires!

Christmas Tree Statistics

  • Between 2011 and 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 200 home fires per year that started with Christmas trees. These fires caused an average of six deaths, 16 injuries, and $14.8 million in direct property damage annually.
  • On average, one of every 32 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 143 total reported home fires.
  • Problems with electrical distribution or lighting equipment were involved in two of every five (40%) home Christmas tree fires.
  • About one quarter (24%) of home Christmas tree fires were caused by heat sources intentionally lit or turned on.
  • Forty-two percent of reported home Christmas tree fires occurred in December, and 37 percent were reported in January.
  • More than one third (37%) of home Christmas tree fires started in a living room, family room, or den.


National Fire Protection Association