Tips to Minimize Your Risk of Holiday Home Fires


As you decorate your home for the holidays, keep in mind that the festive displays you create and the additional heat sources you use this time of year increase the risk of home fires. Follow these tips, adapted from the National Fire Protection Association and other sources, to decrease the risk of a fire starting in your home this holiday season.

Christmas Trees

  • When picking out a Christmas tree to bring into your home, choose a tree that has green needles that do not fall off when you touch them.
  • Position your Christmas tree at least 3 feet away from fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents, or lights.
  • Water the tree daily.
  • Never decorate your tree with lit candles.
  • Use a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) wall outlet to plug in your Christmas tree, if possible, to reduce the risk of electric shock due to the potentially hazardous meeting of water (essential to keep your tree hydrated and safe) and electricity.
  • Dried-out trees can pose a fire hazard and should be discarded, not stored in your home or garage.

String Lights

  • Inspect your string lights before installing them. Do not use strands of lights with loose bulb connections or worn/broken cords.
  • Do not use nails to hang lights. Use clips instead.
  • Check your lights’ packaging. Are the lights for indoor or outdoor use? Use only where they are designed to be used.
  • Also, check the lights’ manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate number of light strands to connect together, and do not exceed that number.
  • Never overload a circuit.
  • Turn off all holiday lights before going to bed or leaving the home.
  • Use heavy-duty extension cords that are grounded for fire safety for your decorations.
  • Bring outdoor lights inside for storage after the holidays to prevent additional hazards.


  • When decorating with candles, use only sturdy candleholders.
  • Place lit candles away from decorations, blankets, lampshades, your Christmas tree, and other items that might catch fire.
  • Blow out candles before leaving the room.
  • Consider using flameless candles to decrease the likelihood of home fires, but turn them off when you leave the house. LED lights do get hot.

Fireplaces, Wood-Burning Stoves, and Space Heaters

  • Fireplaces and chimneys should be inspected by a professional chimney sweep every year. Clean your fireplace and chimney as recommended by the inspector.
  • Keep your fireplace free of debris; remove ashes after each fire.
  • Do not burn pressure-treated or painted wood.
  • Use caution with space heaters. They should only be plugged into a 20-amp circuit when possible, and they should not be used with extension cords. Keep them far away from your Christmas trees, blankets, wrapping paper, and holiday decorations.

Other Considerations

  • Test your smoke alarms to make sure they are in good working order.
  • Select only flame-resistant or flame-retardant holiday decorations to use in your home.
  • Make sure decorations do not block windows or doors.
  • Inform guests about escape plans in case of a fire.
  • Ask guests who are smokers to smoke outside only.
  • Before discarding cigarette butts, pour some water on them.

We at Up North Home Showcase wish you a safe and happy holiday season!

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