Christmas Tree Fire Facts

Did you know that Christmas tree fires cause an average of 210 home structure fires each year in the U.S.?  The Christmas tree has been an integral part of the holiday season for hundreds of years.  Unfortunately, live Christmas trees are also a leading cause of fire-related deaths during the holiday season.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and National Fire Prevention Association’s annual fire department experience survey Christmas trees fires were responsible for seven deaths, and 17 injuries, and caused $17.5 million in property damage each year between 2009 and 2013.

Compared to other home fires, Christmas tree fires are far more deadly – resulting in one fatality per 31 reported incidents, compared to one death per 144 reported home fires not caused by a Christmas tree.

This video of a live Christmas tree burn, conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), demonstrates how quickly a dried out Christmas tree can burn, with flashover occurring in less than one minute.

Christmas Tree Fire Safety Tips

Keep your family safe this holiday season by following these safety tips from National Fire Prevention Association and FEMA’s U.S. Fire Administration:

  • When choosing a tree, look for one that is fresh and has green needles that don’t fall out. Brownish needles mean the tree is dried out and more prone to catch fire.
  • Water your tree daily to prevent it from drying out.
  • Check the manufacturer’s labels to ensure you use only lights and decorations that are flame-retardant. Look for a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories, Intertek or the Canadian Standards Association, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Check holiday lights for frayed wires or excessive wear.
  • Don’t connect more than three strands of mini-string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.
  • Keep your tree at least 3 feet away from any heat source, such as a fireplace, radiator, candles or lights.
  • Make sure your tree is not blocking an exit. In case there is a fire, you want a way to get out.
  • Always turn off lights on a tree before going to bed or leaving your home.
  • Get rid of a tree when its needles start dropping. It means the tree is drying out.
  • Check that your smoke alarm is working properly.