Christmas Tree Safety

Holiday Safety Tips

On average, during December more than 600 Christmas tree fires occur. Dried Christmas trees burn much faster than watered trees.

These fires cause:

  • 33 people to lose their lives
  • Serious injury to 112 people
  • More than $21 million in damage

If you get a real tree:

  • It should not lose its needles.
  • Cut 1 inch off the trunk, then place the tree in water immediately to help it absorb water.
  • Your tree stand should hold at least 1 gallon of water.
  • A 6-foot tree will use 1 gallon of water every two days.
  • Check the water level every day.
  • Keep the tree away from floor heaters, fireplaces, or other heat sources.
  • Use only UL-approved lights, and no more than three strands linked together.
  • Wash your hands after handling lights and decorations, due to lead dust found on most imported decorations.
  • Use miniature lights—which have cool-burning bulbs.
  • Turn off the Christmas lights when you sleep or leave your home.
  • Never use real candles on or near an artificial or real tree.
  • Ensure that tinsel or artificial icicles are made of non-leaded material.
  • Avoid decorations that tend to break easily or have sharp edges.
  • Keep tree trimmings that are small or have removable parts out of the reach of small children, to prevent them from being swallowed.
  • Clean the tree stand to improve the tree’s water intake; do not let the tree run out of water.

After Christmas

Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. 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.

Facts and Figures

Between 2003-2007, U.S. fire departments responded to a average of 250 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These files cased an average of 14 deaths, 26 injuries, and $13.8 million in direct property damage annually.

Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they occur, they are likely to be serious. On average, one of every 18 reported fires that began with a Christmas treee resulted in death.

The National Fire Protection Association and Underwriters Laboratories conducted a test demonstrating how flammable a dry Christmas tree can be as opposed to a tree watered regularly.