Christmas Fire Safety

Christmas fire safety is an important topic that many parents tend to overlook.  The festive holidays present a whole list of potential dangers to you and your family that are easily preventable. 

Everyone enjoys putting up a tree, decorating with colorful lights, burning candles and of course delicious dinners with family and friends. The unfortunate part is that all the things that make Christmas such a great time of year also make it one of the most dangerous for you and your family.  Tree fires caused by electrical problems,  fires from faulty strings of lights and kitchen fires are just a few of the hazards you should keep in mind.

You might be surprised to hear that most house fires around the holidays are started in the kitchen or that candles can become a deadly hazard especially when children and pets are present.  If you have a newborn or small child, the excitement of their first Christmas is something to cherish forever and we want to make sure the memories are good ones.

It's often tough to keep safety in mind with the fast pace and busy schedule surrounding the holidays but it's definitely worth taking a few minutes to learn all the things you can do to keep your family safe.  

Christmas Fire Safety in your Home

Christmas only comes once a year and is a time for connecting with friends and family, giving gifts to loved ones, beautiful decorations and of course Santa Claus.  It also brings exciting and new things to your home that children might not be familiar with.  We'll talk about the hazards these present and things you can do to help prevent injury or worse. 

Christmas Trees

Everyone loves putting up a tree over the holidays.  A tree decorated with lights and ornaments surrounded by presents is a staple of Christmas time.  There are few things that you should keep in mind when choosing a tree as well as where you decide to set it up. 

Living trees are a popular choice for some families but unfortunately when you bring nature in your home you are adding a degree of risk.  Trees are an excellent source of fuel for fires and a neglected tree that dries out can ignite and burn in seconds.  We've got some Christmas fire safety tips to help keep your living tree safe and something the family can enjoy for weeks.

Safety Tips for Live Trees

  • A bright green color and strong fragrant smell will indicate a healthy tree
  • Needles should bend, not break and shouldn't fall off when you shake the tree
  • The stump should smell sweet from the fresh sap
  • Keep the tree immersed in water at all times and water daily
  • A tree stand should hold at least 1 - 3 litres
  • A live tree should only be kept in the home for 10 - 14 days
  • Keep the tree away from sources of ignition such as; candles, heaters and the fireplace

Lights and Extension Cords

Whether you are decorating the outside of your home with an array of lights and decorations or the Christmas tree there are a few things to watch for to help prevent an electrical fire or electrocution. 

Safety Tips for Lights and Decorations

  • Use only indoor lights inside your home - outdoor lights burn too hot
  • Ensure that light cords are not cracked, frayed or missing lights
  • Look for the safety standard UL (USA) and CSA (Canada)
  • Be sure not to overload an electrical outlet with too many cords
  • Electrical cords shouldn't be run under the carpet or rugs
  • Avoid small decorations that could pose a choking hazard for babies

Christmas Candles

A real tree has a certain allure around Christmas time and it's also a time real burning candles are set out to create that perfect holiday atmosphere or holiday fragrance.  Unfortunately real candles pose a fire risk especially when babies and small children are present.  

Real candles can be bumped, knocked over and can light an adjacent curtain or decoration on fire in seconds.  The hazard is increased with the abundance of extra decorations and holiday accessories around the home.  A few things to keep in mind if you decide to burn candles around your home. 

Safety Tips for Real Candles

  • Use synthetic battery operated candles whenever possible
  • Keep away from items that can catch on fire such as; furniture, decorations, curtains
  • Blow candles out when you aren't in the room and at night
  • Keep them out of reach of children or where pets can knock them over

Kitchen Safety

Christmas fire safety is very important to keep in mind around the kitchen.  Kitchen fires are the leading cause of house fires in North America and with everyone spending more time in the kitchen during the holidays this becomes even more important. 

Elaborate meals are most peoples favourite part of Christmas but when you're preparing those meals there are real fire hazards that could be easily prevented with some education and prevention.  If a fire starts in the kitchen there are a few things you should know and safety devices like home fire extinguishers and smoke detectors can be life savers. 

Safety Tips for the Kitchen

  • Never leave cooking food unattended
  • Use extra caution when cooking fatty and greasy foods
  • Keep flammable items away from sources of heat
  • Know where the shutoffs are for the gas to turn off the heat sources
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen
  • Smother a cooking oil fire with a pan or lid. Do not use water or turn on the fan


Fireplaces are usually the focal point of the living room and where most families hang stockings so Santa can fill them up with toys and other good stuff.  There isn't anything better than a warm fire burning during the holidays but there are some things to keep in mind at Christmas time especially when children are around. 

Whether you have an electric or a wood burning fireplace or stove there are hazards that could present a fire risk.  It's often overlooked that fireplaces are dangerous especially with the extreme heat that can be produced as well as flying sparks that could start a fire in the blink of an eye. 

Safety Tips for the Fireplace

  • Never leave a fire unattended
  • Only use clean burning wood to reduces sparks and toxic fumes
  • Ensure that the flue or duct is open 
  • Remove stockings when the fire is burning 
  • Keep flammable items a safe distance away
  • Wrapping paper and cardboard will burn too hot and should be recycled instead
  • A fireplace safety gate should be used when children are present

Drink and Smoke Responsibly

One of the leading causes of fires in the home is discarded cigarettes.  A burning cigarette can ignite and start a fire in minutes.  The holidays are a time for celebration and getting together with family and friends and if you drink make sure you do it responsibly.

A lot of accidents occur when consuming alcohol and during Christmas time this is even more prevalent.  Always keep Christmas fire safety in mind and whenever possible smoke outside or in a safe place and be sure to discard cigarettes in a container designed for cigarette butts. 

Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector

Christmas fire safety includes preventing fires but if a fire starts in your home when you are away or sleeping an alarm could save your life.  It's the law to have detectors in your home and operating properly.  If you haven't done so recently you should ensure that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.

An alarm that sounds when smoke is detected or the silent killer carbon monoxide will give you and your family adequate time to evacuate and call emergency services.   If you have questions or concerns contact your local fire department who will also be able to provide advice about fire detection and prevention. 

Safety Tips for Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • Install detectors in your home in accordance with your local legal requirements
  • Replace old or faulty detectors 
  • Go over a fire safety plan with your family

Fire Safety Plan

Christmas fire safety wouldn't be complete without having a fire safety plan in place for your family.  If a fire breaks out and your family is inside it's important to know the safest and fastest way to get out of the home.  This includes exits, escape routes and calling 911 or your emergency number. 

The National Fire Protection Association has great information for putting a Basic Fire Escape Plan in place for you and your family. 

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