Have a Fire-Safe Holiday: Holiday Safety Tips from Rural/Metro Fire Department

The holiday season, with its special decorations and festivities, has its own unique fire and safety hazards.  Each year fire departments respond to hundreds of structure fires caused by Christmas trees.  Carefully decorating Christmas trees can help make your holidays safer.

Picking the tree

  • If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
  • Artificial trees are not immune to fire!  Treat them with the same degree of care as you would live cut trees.
  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

Placing the tree

  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1–2”  off from the base of the trunk.
  • Anchor trees securely to prevent them from tipping over.  
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily!

Lighting the tree

  • Use only Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved lighting sets and ornaments to decorate your tree and home.
  • Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.  Be sure to check the approved usage.  Don’t use indoor extension cords outdoors.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn, cracked or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than 3 strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.
  • NEVER use lit candles to decorate the tree!
  • When using candles, place them in proper holders and keep them a safe distance from any flammable material.  Make sure the candleholder has a base sufficient to contain any hot melted wax and is heavy enough that it will not tip over easily.  Never leave candles unattended!
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

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, 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.