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Tree Safety
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Tree Safety Tips

Many of us will have either already put up our Christmas tree, or will soon do so.  Whether you choose to utilize a live tree or an artificial model, the ambiance of a lit tree warms the heart and beautifies many homes during this festive season.  And while Christmas tree fires are not all that common, when they do happen, they are likely to be very serious.  Carefully decorating your home, especially when utilizing a live tree, can help make your holidays safer.  Here’s some tips to keeping your holidays joyful and triumphant should you choose to utilize a live tree:

Picking the tree

  • 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 2" from the base of the trunk.
  • 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 lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer's instructions for number of light strands to connect. 
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

After Christmas

  • Get rid of the tree after Christmas. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or 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.


Research and statistics

  • Between 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 200 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 6 deaths, 16 injuries, and $14.8 million in direct property damage annually. 
  • On average, one of every 32 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 143 total reported home fires.
  • Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in two of every five (40%) of home Christmas tree fires.
  • In one-quarter (26%) of the Christmas tree fires and in 80% of the deaths, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.
  • One quarter (24%) of Christmas tree fires were intentional. 
  • Forty-two percent of reported home Christmas tree fires occurred in December and 37% were reported in January. 
  • More than one-third (37%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.

Source: NFPA's "Home Structure Fires Involving Christmas Trees."


The Salisbury Fire Department wants to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  We hope that whatever holiday you may honor will be the best one, ever.

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