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Holiday Season Fire Safety


The holiday season is a time for family and tradition – and, if you’re not careful – fires. Make sure you have a happy new year by avoiding house fires during the holiday.

Common Fire Causes: Heating, Cooking and Decorating

House fires are more common during the winter. This may be, at least in part, because of the heaters people use. Portable heaters, for example, can spark fires when they’re placed near flammable objects or if they fall over, which is why it’s important to put these heaters in a safe spot and to use heaters that are in good condition and have automatic shutoffs. 

The winter holidays are also associated with large meals and plenty of baking, and this can create another risk. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, cooking is the leading cause of residential fires.

But there’s another holiday fire danger that is easy to overlook – even though we spend a lot of time looking right at it. Your festive decorations could spark a fire. 

How Your Decorations Can Start a Fire

What’s the difference between the Christmas tree in your living room and the wood in your fireplace? Perhaps not as much as you’d like. Dry trees pose a serious fire risk. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Christmas trees are responsible for about 160 home fires each year, but you can take steps to prevent a fire:

  • Select a fresh tree.
  • Cut a section off the bottom of the tree so it can absorb water.
  • Keep the tree in a tree stand with water. Don’t forget to add water every day.
  • Put the tree in a safe place, away from heat sources.
  • Even if the tree is fresh when you buy it, it won’t stay that way forever – 29 percent of Christmas tree fires occur in January. Find a place that accepts trees for recycling and get rid of yours.

Decorative lights pose another risk. The NFPA says that 44 percent of home Christmas tree fires are caused by problems with electrical distribution or lighting equipment. Natural candles can also create a fire hazard. According to the NFPA, candle fires peak on Christmas and Christmas Eve.

  • Don’t leave candles burning unattended.
  • Don’t put candles near flammable objects.
  • Don’t overload your electrical sockets.
  • Check lights for damage and replace them as needed.

Other decorations can also pose a hazard, especially if they’re placed next to a fire or other heat source.

Also keep an eye on any children and pets in your home. Otherwise, your dog might knock over the Christmas tress – right onto the candles you have out. That’s just one way a disaster could strike.

Most house fires can be prevented. Review and share this infographic and take steps to keep your house and loved ones safe this holiday season. If you haven’t done so lately, also review your homeowners insurance coverage with your FICOH agent. Happy Holidays from all of us at FICOH!