Side-by-side Christmas tree burn conducted by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission demonstrates how quickly a dried out tree burns vs. a well-hydrated one, underscoring the importance of watering Christmas trees daily.
Festive meals, flickering lights and holiday decorations: they're all hallmarks of the holiday season. Unfortunately, Christmas trees, candles, electrical decorations, and cooking all contribute to an increased number of home fires in December, making it a leading month for U.S. home fires. Here are some statistics that underscore these risks.
Christmas trees: Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they do occur, they’re much more likely to be deadly than most other fires. One of every 45 reported home Christmas tree fires results in a death, compared to an annual average of one death per 139 reported home fires.
Candles: December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In 2016, the top three days for candle fires were Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve. More than half (56 percent) of the December home decoration fires were started by candles, compared to one-third (31 percent) the remainder of the year.
Holiday decorations: Between 2012 and 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 800 home fires per year that began with decorations (excluding Christmas trees). These fires caused an annual average of two civilian deaths, 34 civilian injuries and $11 million in direct property damage. One-fifth (19 percent) of these home decoration fires occurred in December. One-fifth (21 percent) of decoration fires started in the kitchen; 15 percent started in the living room, family room or den.
Holiday cooking: While cooking fires are the leading cause of U.S. home fires and injuries year-round, Christmas Day ranked as the second-leading day for home cooking fires in 2016 (behind Thanksgiving Day.) On Christmas Day in 2016, there was a 73 percent increase in the number of home cooking fires as compared to an average day.
Don't let these numbers put you in a bah humbug spirit! The vast majority of these fires can be prevented by taking some basic safety precautions. Check out our holiday fire safety tips and information for keeping fire-safe this holiday season; we encourage fire departments to use these materials as they work to promote holiday fire safety in their communities.