Winter Holiday Safety

Carefully decorating your home can help make your holidays safer. Between 2009-2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 210 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 860 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees.
Christmas trees
  • Between 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 200 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 6 deaths, 16 injuries, and $14.8 million in direct property damage annually.
  • On average, one of every 32 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 143 total reported home fires.
  • Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in two of every five (40%) of home Christmas tree fires.
  • In one-quarter (26%) of the Christmas tree fires and in 80% of the deaths, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.
  • One quarter (24%) of Christmas tree fires were intentional.
  • Forty-two percent of reported home Christmas tree fires occurred in December and 37% were reported in January.
  • More than one-third (37%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.

Christmas Tree Burn Video

Holiday decorations
  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 840 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees, in 2011-2015. These fires caused an annual average of two civilian fire deaths, 36 civilian fire injuries and $11.4 million in direct property damage.
  • Ten percent of decoration fires were intentional.
  • The decoration was too close to a heat source such as a candle or equipment in two of every five (42%) fires.
  • More than one-fifth (21%) of the decoration fires started in the kitchen. Fifteen percent started in the living room, family room or den.
Candles
  • Candles started more than one-third (36%) of home decoration structure fires.
  • More than half (55%) of the December home decoration fires were started by candles, compared to one-third (32%) in January to November.
  • The top three days for home candle fires were Christmas, New Year’s Day, and New Year’s Eve.
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