The holiday season is a festive time that people enjoy with their family and friends. To get into the holiday spirit, people often take the time to decorate their homes with colorful lights and décor. People also tend to spend more time cooking, preparing, and baking delicious food and treats. But this can also create a fire hazard in your living space.
Between 2016 and 2022, US fire officials responded to an average of 160 home fires that were caused by Christmas tree ignitions. While the fires caused injuries to 11 individuals, the physical losses resulted in $12 million in direct property damage.
Although Christmas tree fires are a small problem, they remain a significant part of the US home fire issues. Home fires starting because of holiday décor are small in number -but considering the décor is used for only a short time, the problem is in reality a major one.
Slightly over one-third of home fires during the holidays are caused by electrical failure or malfunction. Heat sources placed in close proximity to the tree account for about one-fifth of fires. The misuse of holiday products contributes to one in ten fires.
No one wants to worry about a fire during the holidays. People want to spend the season celebrating and spending quality time with loved ones. Knowing this, you need to spend time practicing fire safety and fire prevention habits. This will give you the best chance at preventing a fire.
Continue reading to learn tips and get help for holiday fire prevention.
Use Holiday Decorations Properly
Christmas ornaments on the holiday tree, dazzling strings of lights on the roof, and fragrant candles on the table invoke the joyous spirit of the season. While Christmas decorations are an important part of the holidays, they can be fire hazards and potentially lead to loss or injury.
Winter Holiday Fires – Facts
See this infographic:
Hanging the holiday lights is a tradition, one that kicks off the joyous holiday season. When buying lights and other electrical decorations, make sure they are labeled with the name and logo of an independent testing laboratory. Specifically, look for the UL label from the Underwriters Laboratory.
If reusing lights from previous years, inspect the entire string for loose bulb connections or broken cords. Wear and tear in the string of lights can lead to an outbreak of fire. Prevent a Christmas fire by replacing strings of lights that show flaws or evidence of wear.
When hanging the lights, prevent damage to them. Do not mount lights with staples or nails, as they could damage the wire insulation; use clip mounts instead. Also keep lights and cords away from snow or standing water to prevent damage to the cord’s insulation.
Light strings are manufactured for either indoor or outdoor use. If the lights are intended for outdoor use, do not hang them inside, and vice versa. Check the label on a box of outdoor lights to ensure they are waterproof. Securely hang them to protect the lights from wind damage.
Many homeowners wonder if they should turn off their Christmas tree lights before going to bed. The answer is that it is imperative to turn off the lights when no one is at home or when the family is asleep. Also turn off all electrical decorations before going to bed.
Multiple strings of lights may require extension cords. Do not overload the extension cords or connect more than three strings of lights together. Avoid overloading outlets. It is unsafe to run extension cords under heaters, under carpets, across doorways, or behind furniture.
If you will have a Christmas tree in your home, then you also need to worry about using it safely. For fire prevention, it’s safer to use artificial trees and wreaths because they don’t dry out. However, there are a lot of people who prefer to use a real Christmas tree as décor. If you are going to get a natural tree, then you especially need to be cautious about the one you pick out and how you treat it.
When you don’t get a fresh tree, it’s more prone to catching on fire because it’s drier and more brittle. With that being said, pick out a fresh tree. You’ll know it’s a fresh tree if its needles are green, vibrant, and secure. If a tree looks dull and has needles falling off, then it’s not fresh and should not be purchased.
Once you’ve brought home your real tree, cut the trunk’s bottom off at an angle. Then place it in water to prevent it from drying out as quickly.
When choosing ornaments and other festive decorations to hang upon the holiday tree, ensure they are flame resistant or flame retardant. Holiday decorations are a fire risk, since they introduce extra combustible fuel sources and ignition sources, especially when not hung safely.
Large decorations may add fun and festivity to the holiday, but they should be positioned carefully to prevent tragedy in the event a fire breaks out. Place all seasonal décor and the Christmas tree itself away from exits. It is critical to not block exits with décor of any size.
Keep seasonal plants at least three feet away from a heat source. Similarly, place the Christmas tree itself several feet away from heat sources. Examples of common household heat sources include the fireplace, a wood stove, the radiator and space heaters.
When putting up the Christmas tree, use a sturdy tree stand that is designed to prevent a decorated tree from tipping over. If using a real tree this season, water it daily to keep the needles as moist as possible. Dry tree needles are highly flammable.
If the tree becomes dry, dispose of it immediately as a fire safety precaution. Likewise, when the season ends, discard the tree right away. Never leave a live, dried-out tree in the garage, inside the home or leaning against the property—as it is highly combustible.
Candles and Other Holiday Décor
Candles add warm, cozy feelings to the family room. However, lit candles are a major fire hazard when left unattended or when children play around them. Prevent a house fire by keeping burning candles a safe distance from combustible materials and other holiday decorations.
While leaving the candles burning through the night may catch the attention of Saint Nick, do not keep candles lit without an adult in the room. Extinguish all indoor candles before leaving the room or heading to sleep. Never use real candles to light the Christmas tree.
Whatever the items are, make sure your decorative objects are away from heat sources. For example, if you have a fireplace, be mindful of any décor that you hang or place near it. You don’t want any of these items to catch on fire and spread it throughout your home.
Practice Safe Cooking Habits
No matter the time of the year, you should never leave the kitchen unattended when cooking. Whether something’s on the stove, in the oven, or in another appliance, make sure there’s at least one person present to monitor the food being prepared. With someone keeping watch, there’s a lesser chance that a cooking accident occurs.
Don’t try to do all the cooking on your own and all at once, though. If you’re handling too many cooking tasks at once, it can be more difficult to keep track of it all which increases the fire risk. However, it’s also important that the kitchen isn’t too crowded. With too many people in one area, there’s less space to operate, meaning more chances for incidents. For fire prevention purposes, limit the amount of people allowed in the kitchen.
When using the stove, take the time to keep all pot and pan handles turned inward so that no one knocks into them and causes an accident.
Be Smart About Fireplace Use
If your home has a fireplace, then you’re likely to use it during the holiday season to keep yourself and your home warm. A nice, toasty fire also helps create a comfortable, enjoyable holiday atmosphere. Safe fireplace use is important to prevent the fire from escaping and burning objects in your home.
When using your fireplace, make sure the screen is always closed. This will prevent sparks from leaving. Never leave a fire unattended either, so extinguish them completely when you’re leaving or going to bed.
What to Do About Holiday Fires
By following these holiday fire prevention tips, you give yourself a better chance of preventing a fire this season. However, mistakes and accidents happen, and fires break out. Because of this, it’s important to have functioning smoke alarms and proper fire extinguishers in your home.
If the fire gets out of hand, then you need to evacuate the property and call your local fire department for help. Once the fire is out, turn your attention to your home’s restoration immediately. Fire damage can become permanently quickly, so it crucial to have the damage repaired promptly.
Call ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning
Home fires can break out at any time, whether on Christmas day, New Year’s Day, or any other time of year. When disaster strikes, it’s important to obtain the professional fire damage restoration services from ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning to return your home to its pre-loss condition.
Once the fire officials have extinguished the fire, the destruction continues in the form of soot and smoke damage. The fire’s corrosive byproducts spread throughout the property without the professional intervention from our experienced crews of fire damage cleanup experts.
ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning provides fire damage restoration services in Houston, TX, to help properties that have suffered damaged by a fire. Our professional technicians will conduct emergency pre-cleaning to prevent permanent damage, do board-ups as necessary, and repair and restore the damage.
Technicians arrive promptly to assess the extent of fire damage. If necessary, our specialists board up the home to prevent further damage from vandals or inclement weather. We pre-clean high-risk materials, remove soot and smoke, and dry out wet areas dampened by fire hoses.
Our professionals also utilize advanced deodorization techniques to remove lingering smoke odors. We promote optimum air quality in the aftermath of the fire. Our specialists offer content cleaning and pack-out services, which are convenient for treating fire damage to personal belongings.
When your Houston area home is affected by fire, contact ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning. Our efficient fire damage cleanup service is continually rated highly by area residents. We’re available 24 hours a day to respond to fire damage emergencies. Call us for dependable fire damage restoration.