Holiday Decoration + Candle Safety
How to Prevent Your Candles and Holiday Decorations from Starting a Fire
While candles and holiday decorations can make a home beautiful and festive, they can also increase risk of a house fire, unfortunately. Following a few simple safety tips, though, can help your holiday season stay happy, safe, and fun!
According to the National Fire Prevention Association:
- 11% of candle fires occur each year in both December and January.
- In a five-year span from 2015 through 2019, fires caused by candles resulted in an annual average of 670 injuries, 90 deaths, and nearly $300 million in property damage.
- From 2015 through 2019, fire departments in the United States responded to over 7,000 fires started by candles – each year!
- Christmas Day is the peak day for candle fires.
Keep your holidays safe by following these candle safety best practices:
- Candles should always be out of pets’ and children’s reach.
- If you leave a room or go to bed, blow out candles.
“More than one-third of candle fires start in the bedroom,” according to the National Fire Prevention Association.
- Consider battery-operated candles rather than real candles. These artificial, flameless candles look real but don’t pose the same danger as traditional candles.
- Keep candles at least one foot away from anything that can burn, especially things like curtains, papers, and other flammable materials. If you plan to place candles in your windows, use battery-operated, flameless candles.
- Ensure that any lit candles are in stable holders and positioned on a clutter-free surface (and where they cannot be easily knocked down!). When using candles for religious traditions (such as a menorah), place on a non-flammable surface such as a metal tray.
- Keep matches and lighters securely stored and out of children’s reach.
- Do not put real candles in a Christmas tree.
For more information on candle safety this holiday season, see the NFPA’s Candle Safety flyer.
Household and Outdoor Decorations
Placing decorations too close to a heat source results in nearly 50% of home fires each year.
- Keep windows and doors free of any obstructions such as decorations.
- Make sure that your holiday lights are in good shape. Do not use lights with frayed wires, and do not overload circuits.
- Nails should not be used to hang lights. Instead, use clips so cords aren’t damaged.
- Ensure that any lights you plan to hang outside are outdoor lights.
- Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed.
For information on Christmas tree fire safety, read our blog: Christmas Tree Fire Safety: 10 Tips to Ensure a Happy & Safe Holiday Season.
General Fire Safety
- Regularly test your smoke alarms, and replace smoke alarms at least every ten years.
- To test a smoke alarm, push the test button. You should test smoke alarms each month.
- Smoke alarms should be on every level of a home, including outside each sleeping area and inside each bedroom.
- Alarms should be connected for the best protection, so when one sounds, they all sound.
- If you have guests over, make sure they are familiar with your home and possible escape routes in the event of an emergency.
*This post was originally published December 7, 2020.