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What You Need to Know About Holiday Light & Décor Safety


The holidays are a wonderful time full of twinkling lights, warm fireplaces, candles and festive decorations. All of these things help the season feel special and cozy – but without proper precautions, they can also be fire hazards.

This holiday season, make sure to consider fire safety when planning out and putting up your holiday decorations. In this blog, we’ll share some tips and tricks to keep you and your family safe.

Choosing Your Decorations

Choosing safe decorations is the best thing you can do to help prevent fires from happening in the first place. When choosing your holiday décor, check to see if items are labeled as flame retardant, especially if you’d like to place them near any holiday lights.

For holiday lights, know that some are meant for indoor or outside use only – but not both. Carefully read the labels to make sure you’re buying the correct type for the usage you have in mind. When hanging those lights, you’ll also want to use clips, not nails, so that the cords don’t get damaged or broken, even on windy or icy days.

Finally, you’ll need to consider where you’re placing decorations. Keep flammable décor at least three feet away from any fireplace or candles that you plan to light during the season. Make sure also that your decorations don’t block any doors or windows, in case you ever need to access an emergency exit.

Selecting and Caring For Your Christmas Tree

iStock-1679587679For those who celebrate, the Christmas tree can be the peak of all of the holiday decorations. Some families make a day of picking out their tree together, while others opt for an artificial tree. Regardless of which route you take, each comes with unique fire safety considerations.

If you have a live tree, know that a dry tree is a huge fire hazard. Make sure that the tree you choose for your home has fresh, green needles that don’t fall off when touched. This indicates that it is well watered and less likely to catch fire. Also make sure the stump is long enough to trim once you get home, so that you can keep it well watered at your residence as well. As a general rule of thumb, the stand you have should provide a quart of water per inch of stem diameter for the tree.

Many people think artificial trees are safer when it comes to fire hazards, but this isn’t necessarily true. While many artificial trees may be fire retardant, you should make sure that your tree is labeled as such before buying. If using an unlit tree, make sure not to overload the outlets around the tree with any lights you add. Many pre-lit trees have been recalled due to fire hazards, so always check that your model has not been, and annually inspect the tree for any exposed wiring or cords between lights that aren’t plugged in entirely.

When you place your tree, make sure it’s at least three feet away from any heat sources – including candles and fireplaces – and always turn off the tree’s lights before leaving the house or going to bed.

Candle and Menorah Safety

According to the National Fire Protection Association, candle fires peak in December and January, with 11 percent of candle fires in each of these months.

When it comes to general candle safety, keep these tips in mind:

  • Always keep burning candles in sight and extinguish them before leaving a room.
  • Keep candles out of reach of children and pets.
  • Lit candles should be placed at least three inches apart.
  • Do not extinguish candles with water, as doing so can splatter wax. Instead, replace the lid on a candle holder to put it out.
  • Extinguish candles that flicker repeatedly, smoke or have a high flame.
  • Stop using candles that have only two inches left at the end, or ½ inch left in the container.

For those celebrating Hanukkah, it’s also important to keep some additional candle safety tips in mind.

iStock-1436771335Always put your menorah on a stable, non-flammable surface. If it’s on a table, check while the menorah is unlit that it won’t tip over, even if the table is bumped. Keep the menorah out of reach of children and pets, and never leave a lit menorah unattended.

If children are lighting candles, adults must be vigilant in supervising and be prepared to step in at any moment. When lighting candles to hold, avoid passing lit candles. Instead, have someone dip an unlit candle into a lit candle, to avoid dripping hot wax on anyone or setting dangling sleeves on fire.

The holidays are a time for making memories with friends, family and loved ones – and for many, holiday lights, candles and fireplaces are part of that. Certainly use them to enjoy the season, just make sure you’re doing so safely with the tips above, in order to protect your people and property.

For more tips on how you can stay fire safe this holiday season, explore the rest of our blog or book a consultation with us. We’d love to help.

Tags: preferred protection, fire safety, holiday safety