Homeland Security and Emergency Services

Holiday Fire Safety

The holidays are a time to celebrate, and to reflect on what is most important to us. And there is nothing more important than providing a safe and secure home for your family. Have a safe and happy holiday season by following these simple, but often overlooked fire safety tips.

Christmas Trees

Artificial Trees: When purchasing an artificial tree, look for one labeled "Fire Resistant." Although this label does not mean the tree won't catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.

Selecting a Live Tree: Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches. The needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out and is a fire hazard. Remember to keep your tree HYDRATED.

Caring for your tree: Do not place the tree close to a heat sources, including fireplaces, lights, radiators, or heat vents. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame, or sparks. Close proximity to heat sources is the cause of many tree fires. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for too long. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

Disposing of the tree: Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is to take it to a recycling center or have it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

Decorations

Use caution when selecting and setting up your holiday decor. Many Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical issues.

  • Follow the manufacturer's instruction on how to use tree lights. Any string lights with worn, frayed or broken cords or loose bulb connections should not be used.
  • Never use electric lights on a metal tree.
  • Unplug Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to sleep.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree.
  • If you use candles to decorate a room, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked over. Never leave a burning candle unattended.
  • All holiday decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant; place them away from heat vents.
  • Never put wrapping paper in a fireplace, it can throw off dangerous sparks and produce intense flames that can cause a chimney fire.Underwriters Laboratories Certification Mark
  • Make sure that the lights and decorations you buy have the Underwriters Laboratories Certification Mark!

Guests

Covid-19 has had a major impact on the ways we can come together safely, and sadly the holiday season is no exception. While large gatherings and travel should be avoided, if you are hosting any guests, take note of these considerations below:

  • Keep your family and overnight guests safe with a working smoke alarm on every level of your home, in every bedroom, and in the halls adjacent to the bedrooms. Test smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries at least twice a year.
  • Overnight guests should be instructed on the fire escape plan and designated meeting place for your home.To learn more about heating safely this winter, check out these other fire safety fact sheets from OFPC.

Other Seasonal Safety Tips

Home Heating Fire Safety
www.dhses.ny.gov/ofpc/publications/documents/fire-prevention/Homeheating.pdf

Home Fire Safety Tips
www.dhses.ny.gov/ofpc/publications/documents/brochures/HFS-tips.pdf

Chimney Fire safety
www.dhses.ny.gov/ofpc/publications/documents/fire-prevention/Chimney.pdf

Carbon Monoxide Safety
www.dhses.ny.gov/ofpc/publications/documents/brochures/CarbMonox.pdf

Holiday Safety Information
www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/News-Releases/2018/Put-Safety-at-the-Top-of-Your-List-When-Decorating-this-Holiday-Season