Winter is most definitely upon us and that means extended use of heaters, ovens, and dryers. It’s also the holiday season and that means electronic decorations, cooking, and candles.

An average of 210 home fires started by Christmas trees were responded to annually between 2010-2014 which led to an annual average of 6 deaths, 16 injuries, and $16.2 million in direct property damage. Christmas tree fires statistically led to more home fire deaths (one every 34 fires) than the home fire death average (one every 142 fires) over that same period. About one-third of those Christmas tree fires were due to some kind of electrical or lighting equipment. Almost forty percent of Christmas tree fires began in the living room or den. Nearly twenty-five percent of them were intentional.

On average, 860 fires per year began with decorations (not related to Christmas trees) from 2009-2013, causing one death, 41 injuries, and $13.4 million in direct property damage. In almost half of these fires, the decoration was near a heat source. Twenty percent of these fires began in the kitchen. Twenty percent of these fires happened in December. Ten percent were intentional.

Of home decoration fires, thirty-eight percent were caused by candles. About half of those fires in December were caused by candles, with candles causing thirty-five percent of such fires in November and January. The top three home candle fire days were Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve.

The number one days for home cooking fires are Thanksgiving (see our blog post on how to prevent grease fires), Christmas Day, and Christmas Eve. Eighteen percent of home decoration fires were started by cooking equipment.

As you can see, this time of year is one in which there is an increase of specific kinds of house fires. That doesn’t mean these fires can’t be prevented. Here are some holiday fire safety tips to help you stay safe this Christmas or Hannukah or any other holiday you may be celebrating:

  • Regarding Christmas trees, make sure it’s fresh. The green needles should not easily fall off.

  • Do not keep it near a heat source and make sure it is not blocking an exit.

  • Make sure all the lights you place on the tree are in working condition and not worn out. Turn them off before going to sleep.

  • Do not place lit candles on the tree.

  • Speaking of candles, when lighting the Hannukah menorah (candelabra), make sure to not place it near anything flammable.

  • Make sure to not leave your menorah unattended when lit. Houses have burned down due to unattended menorahs.

  • Regarding decorations, be smart. Make sure not to place any flammable ones near heat sources and for electronic decorations, do not overload electric outlets.

Regardless of which holiday you celebrate during the winter season, be sure to always stay safe when doing so. Whether Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s or what have you, you can never be too careful. It’s a time for family and celebration, so let’s keep it that way. Which holiday do you celebrate? Are you always careful when doing so? Sound off in the comments section down below.