FREEZE Winter Fires — Holiday Safety

It is DECEMBER!  A time for joy and holiday cheer, yet it can be a time for holiday hazard if you aren’t prepared.  As part of our Put a FREEZE on Winter Fires series, today we’ll take a look specifically at Christmas and its celebration and how you can keep your home safe.



  • ONE-THIRD of home decoration fires are started by candles
  • TWO-FIFTHS of every decoration fire happens because decorations are placed too close to a heat source.
  • ONE of every four home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems
  • Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious.
  • A heat source too close to the tree causes roughly one in every four of the fires


  • Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant
  • Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn
  • Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both
  • 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
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged
  • Keep decorations away from windows and doors

Holiday entertaining tips

  • Test your smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan
  • Keep children and pets away from lit candles
  • Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop
  • Ask smokers to smoke outside. Remind smokers to keep their smoking materials with them so young children do not touch them
  • Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers. Wet cigarette butts with water before discarding


  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched
  • 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
  • Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed



Get rid of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry.  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.

Be safe this holiday season and Happy Holidays from all of us at Sparta Fire Department!

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