According to the National Christmas Tree Association:

Christmas trees are not the main cause of igniting residential fires at this time of the year.  A Christmas tree itself is not going to burst out in flames.  Newspapers, magazines, boxes, curtains, and drapes are usually 9 to 13 times more likely to ignite than Christmas trees!  The main causes of fires in Christmas trees, whether real or artificial, are overloaded electrical outlets, faulty wiring, and broken or frayed strands of lights.

Here are some facts about selecting and caring for your Christmas tree:

  • Check the tree for freshness.  If several needles fall off when you pull your hand over a branch, don’t purchase it.
  • Make sure the tree gets plenty of water over the holiday period.  Some types of trees need 2-3 gallons of water per day.  Ask the vendor where you purchase your tree how much water you should give it.
  • Invest in a strong stand for your tree.
  • If you have lights that are not in A1 condition, replace them; they are not that expensive.  All lights should be inspected and certified by a testing laboratory.
  • When you go to bed or leave the house, unplug the lights.
  • The same rules apply for quality lights if your choice of tree is artificial.
  • Be sure that the artificial tree you choose is fire-retardant.
  • Even though a Christmas tree would be beautiful alongside a fireplace, your tree and gifts are safer a little farther away from fireplaces, heaters, or stoves.

Candles are also a fire hazard and should be placed carefully away from the reach of small children and/or pets.  Be sure to extinguish them when you leave the room.

While you and your family enjoy this festive season, don’t let safety take a holiday!


  1. Christmas trees are indeed a fire hazard and that should be remembered. Every season you hear about a house burning down because of the christmas tree. It could be a bad wire that starts a fire at night when you are sleeping etc…

  2. I have been married for 10 years and we have never had a live tree at Christmas at all I am so scared that even if we leave the lights off it will catch on fire . I mean the plug in could spark and I don’t want to take that chance . I want to keep my family as safe as possible . Are fake trees safer?

  3. As far as fire safety is concerned, I believe fake trees are safer simply because many are fire retardant. You should always check to see if it is when purchasing one. The main cause of the fires is usually related to the lights: either bad lights with faulty wiring, or overloaded circuits. A good rule of thumb, as listed in the post, is to always unplug the lights when you leave or go to bed. Always inspect the wires for breaks in the insulation prior to putting them on the tree.

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