Firefighters responded to about 160 home fires started by Christmas trees

ILLINOIS (WEHT) – According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than two of every five home decoration fires occur due to decorations being placed too close to a heat source. More than one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles.

The NFPA reports U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year between 2016-2020, and an estimated average of 790 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees.

Officials say more than half of home decoration fires in December are started by candles. The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and New Year’s Eve.

“Decorations add joy and extra flair to our homes during the holiday season, but they can also increase our risk for an accidental fire,” said Acting Illinois State Fire Marshal Dale Simpson. “Following a few simple fire safety tips can help to reduce that risk and allow you and your family to enjoy the holiday season.”

Officials give the following tips to reduce the risk for fires:

  • Be careful with holiday decorations. Make sure decorations are either flame retardant or flame resistant.
  • Keep lit candles at least 12 inches away from decorations or anything that can catch fire.
  • Keep children and pets away from lit candles.
  • Extinguish all lit candles before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Check to make sure your lights are rated for indoor or outdoor use, or both.
  • Replace any light strands that have worn or broken cords. Make sure to read the recommendation for number of light strings you can string together.
  • Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed.
  • If you have a real Christmas tree, make sure to check water levels daily! It is not unusual for a tree to drink two gallons of water the first day it is in the stand.
  • Keep real Christmas trees away from a heat source. It can dry out the tree quickly.

Officials advise before firing the oven back up, make sure to clean it. In case of an oven fire, turn off the oven and keep the door closed until it is cool. Clean cook tops as left-over grease can catch fire.

A press release says if anyone is planning to host anyone during the holidays, make sure they are aware of the fire escape plan. Show them where all the exits are in the home and make sure they are aware of a meeting spot location in case of fire.