Skip navigation
All Places > Safety Source > Blog > 2016 > December
2016

With the holiday now behind us, O Christmas tree, how saggy are your branches? The gifts have been removed from under the pine, the tree is swiftly losing its coat of green, and the needles are piling up on the floor, which means it’s time to remove the tree from your home.


Our stats show that nearly 40 percent of home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January. Although these fires are not common, they are much more likely to be serious when they do occur. On average, one of every 34 reported home structure Christmas tree fires resulted in a death. Compare that to an average of one death per 142 total reported home structure fires.


Christmas trees are decorations, and people may want to continue the festive spirit and leave up their ever-drying pines long after the last of the gifts have been opened. It’s good to remember, however, that the longer the tree remains in the home, the greater the fire risk becomes.

 

If available, NFPA recommends using the local community’s recycling program for tree disposal. Trees should not be put in the garage or left outside. NFPA also offers tips on removing lighting and decorations from trees to ensure they are taken down safely this year and in the right condition for next Christmas:

  • Use the gripping area on the plug when unplugging electrical decorations. Never pull the cord to unplug any device from an electrical outlet, as this can harm the wire and insulation of the cord, increasing the risk for shock or electrical fire.
  • As you pack up light strings, inspect each line for damage, throwing out any sets that have loose connections, broken sockets or cracked or bare wires.
  • Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags, or wrap them around a piece of cardboard.
  • Store electrical decorations in a dry place away from children and pets where they will not be damaged by water or dampness.


For additional resources and information for a fire-safe holiday season, visit “Project Holiday.”

Project Holiday provides tips for fire safety on New Year's Eve

Planning on hosting a New Year's Eve party this year? As you know, with New Year's festivities comes cooking food, food and more food. Then there’s the decorations, the lights, and a house full of people. Have you planned how you will organize your time to prepare? Did you include fire safety on that “to do” list?

 

Accidents can and do happen when we're rushing to do everything at once and on time. And there’s often cause for distraction, too, when there’s lots of activity around us. So as we kick off 2017 on New Year’s Eve, let us all make a pledge to be mindful throughout the year of how home fires start, and make it a point to follow some simple but important steps to reduce our risk and keep our families safe. The following are a few tips to get you started:

 

• Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop
• Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn; blow out lit candles when leaving a room
• Test your smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan

 

Review all of the fire safety tips by downloading for free our winter holiday tips sheet, and enjoy your end of the year celebration wherever that takes you! Stay safe one and all, and we look forward to seeing you in 2017! 

Project Holiday banner

As the holiday season reaches its zenith with family gatherings, festive activities and elaborate meals, let’s not forget about the importance of safety in the kitchen. The peak day for home cooking fires is Thanksgiving followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while preparing food for the holidays.

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check on it regularly.
  • Keep kids and pets away from the stove. Maintain a three-foot “kid-free” zone around the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire–oven mitts, wooden utensils, curtains, decorations–away from your stovetop.

Project Holiday, NFPA’s campaign to educate the public about potential fire risks during the holidays offers additional tips, statistics, reports, videos, and other resources geared toward safety.

A Utah couple has died after faulty Christmas tree lights sparked a fire at their home just north of Salt Lake City. Row of Christmas Trees and safety tips follow.Investigators believe the husband and wife used a fire extinguisher to try to put out the flames but were overcome by smoke. South Davis Metro Fire Spokesman Jeff Bassett is quoted by the Associated Press as stating that neighbors called 911 and tried to rescue the couple, but the front door was too hot to open. Bassett said the couple mentioned to people that they had been having trouble with the lights. Smoke and chemicals from the burning artificial tree likely overwhelmed the couple, while Christmas presents and logs for their fireplace stacked near the tree added fuel to the fire.

NFPA’s tips sheets on Christmas tree safety and winter holiday safety offer precautions:

  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Add water to the tree stand daily.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Always turn off the Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Blow out lit candles when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Test your smoke alarms and tell guest about your home fire escape plan.

In addition NFPA’s community toolkits and 10- and 30-minute mini-lessons help public educators prepare for presentations to the public on fire safety topics.

A person's hand testing the carbon monoxide alarm. The safety tips follow

They were conscious and breathing when they arrived at the hospital–a father and son suffering from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in their Euclid, Ohio, home last week. According to a news report, firefighters say they found CO levels in the home at 900 parts per million. Normal levels would be fewer than 10 parts per million.

Carbon monoxide is a gas you cannot see, taste, or smell. It is often called “the invisible killer.” Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, nausea, and drowsiness.

The family in Euclid recognized the symptoms and got help. Firefighters say the problem was caused by a heating issue involving the boiler.

NFPA’s Carbon Monoxide Safety tips sheet, Community Toolkit and safety information page on the NFPA website provide safety tips, statistics, and materials for presenting CO safety information to the public.

   1) Your cat lets you know he’s delighted you’ve finally bought some great  toys!

   Keep pets and children at least three feet away from burning candles and  electrical cords to prevent burns and electrical fires.

 

   2) That ever-growing pile of fallen pine needles on the floor is receiving  more comments than the decorations for your Christmas tree.

   A dry tree in your home is a fire danger. Think of it as a huge pile of kindling in  your home. Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when   touched.

 

   3) You’ve spent more time trying to free yourself out of the tangled lights  than actually decorating the tree.

   Check the manufacturer’s instructions to find out how many lights can be  connected to prevent electric shock and fire.

 

   4) You know it’s bad to put flammable material near a fire, but you can’t  help yourself. These stockings just look so darn cute and festive!

   

   Keep anything that can burn away from a heat source, despite how awesome  it looks. Flameless candles are also a great alternative to real ones when  decorating.

 

   5) Your house is a holiday tourist attraction and you couldn’t be prouder.

   

   An overloaded electrical outlet is a major fire hazard. Plug strings of lights  directly into the wall and keep the number to a minimum.

 

   6) Some of the bulbs on your string of lights have already taken time off   for the holidays.

   

   Replace any string of lights that has worn or broken cords or loose bulb   connections. These can easily start a fire.

7) You’ve remembered to keep yourself well hydrated, but the same can’t be said for your Christmas tree.

Always keep water in the tree stand. Check daily and add water as needed. Dried-out trees are a major fire hazard.

 

8) You’re sure those strings of Christmas lights make the perfect hat to complement your holiday outfit.

Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. And most certainly, not for your head.

 

9) You’ve been lazy about disposing your Christmas tree so you got creative and came up with a new tradition: a Valentine’s Day tree!

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.

 

Let’s face it, the holidays are never perfect, no matter how they’re portrayed in magazines and on television. But by following a few simple practices and precautions, you can create a fun and perfectly fire-safe holiday for you and your loved ones!


And remember, have working smoke alarms in your home and create a home escape plan. Practice it with your family so everyone knows what to do if a fire does occur. Find additional tips and resources about holiday fire safety on our Project Holiday webpage

 

Happy Holidays from NFPA!

Image of Multi-story apartment building followed by safety tips

The new tip sheet, Fire Alarms in Apartment Buildings, is designed to help residents of large apartment buildings get a better understanding of how the fire alarm system works and how to escape safely in an emergency.

The tip sheet describes the fire alarm box, where it is located, and how to use it. Home escape planning is also outlined. The tip sheet can be used as a stand-alone educational piece or as part of a larger presentation to the public that includes a mini-lesson. The 10-minute mini-lesson on fire alarm systems in apartment buildings includes ice breakers, suggestions for using downloadable sound files, the body of the presentation, and conclusion.

Field Advisor Art Pullan is pictured with two National Basketball Association players

The Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council is encouraging everyone in Ontario to “Be on the Ball” this holiday season as part of a province-wide carbon monoxide (CO) and fire safety campaign featuring Canada’s NBA team, The Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors’ Cory Joseph and DeMar DeRozan pictured above with NFPA Public Education Field Advisor Art Pullan, have been named fire safety ambassadors for the “Make the Winning Shot” campaign. DeRozan and Joseph are featured in daily social media activities throughout the holiday season on fire and CO safety tips.

The entire Raptors organization supports the campaign, along with numerous fire and life safety organizations.

In a statement, the star athletes said, “The Raptors believe that a good offense is often the best defense. The same is true in your home when it comes to being properly prepared for home fires and CO poisonings.”

Proper preparation is what NFPA encourages with its educational materials, which include extensive smoke alarm and CO information designed to keep people safe.

 

Carefully decorating your home can help make your holidays safer. Between 2009-2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 210 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. U.S. fire departments also responded to an estimated average of 860 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees.

 

In the throes of holiday shopping and decorating? Watch this video for some tips on beautifully decorating your home for the holidays and keeping it fire safe. 

 

For more information on holiday safety, visit the NFPA Project Holiday website

Fire Departments from across the greater Atlanta area attended the 2nd annual Operation Save A Life event on December 8th.  As the temperatures start to drop and our nation mourns some devastating fire deaths in recent weeks, it is comforting to see fire departments coming together to receive and install the 5000 smoke alarms donated by Kidde Fire Safety, Home Depot, and WSB-TV.  With the Holidays around the corner, its a great time to remind families of how to decorate safely, insure their smoke alarms are working, and have a family escape plan.  To help your family stay safe visit our Project Holiday page for more safety information activities, safety videos and safety tip sheets.

NFPA’s Dan Doofus is a lovable character who needs a lot of help when it comes to fire safety behavior. In the two-minute video, “Yule Light Up My Life,” Dan overdoes it with the Christmas lights, and fails to water his Christmas tree, which has dried out beyond recognition. But he quickly learns to the importance of reading the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect, and the importance of watering his tree every day and removing the tree when it becomes dry.

This highly entertaining and informative video, which is available on NFPA’s Project Holiday website, is sure to be a highlight for holiday season fire safety presentations.

Illustration of a row of different kinds of Christmas trees decorated with garland, then a series of safety tips

Choosing a Christmas tree from the tree farm in my town has become a tradition in my household. My husband and I can’t wait to pick up our tree this weekend. Another tradition we’ve established is reviewing NFPA’s Christmas Tree Safety tip sheet, which is included with many other holiday safety reminders on the Project Holiday website.

The tip sheet reminds us that when we get to the farm, we’ll need to choose a tree with fresh, green needles that don’t fall off when touched. After we get the tree strapped to the roof of the car and bring it home, we’ll need to cut two inches from the base of the trunk before placing it in the stand.

We’ll add water to the tree stand and make a note to replenish the water every day. The tip sheet also includes pointers for putting lights on the tree and disposing of it after Christmas or when it is dry.

I’ve just thought of another tradition we can start in our household. Downloading the tip sheet and tacking it to the refrigerator to make sure the Christmas tree is enjoyed safely, all season long.

While on my way to a local radio station last week, a video was forwarded to me via email and the timing was perfect.  I had planned to talk about holiday fire safety on-air and Barrie Fire & Emergency Services, of Ontario, Canada, had prepared the perfect audio backdrop for that very topic.  

Minutes later Barrie Fire's rendition of Jingle Bells hit the airwaves as we wrapped up our half hour safety show dedicated to tips on how to keep homes safe during holidays! NFPA provides a wealth of safety information to ensure the holiday season is a safe one.  Check it all out at Project Holiday!

About 75 fire and life safety experts met in Lebanon, New Hampshire, recently for a Carbon Monoxide Awareness and Prevention Summit.

NFPA Public Education Network members Mary MacCaffrie, public education administrator, New Hampshire Division of Fire Safety, and Micheal Greenia, fire safety education coordinator, Vermont Department of Public Safety were among the participants.

The summit provided an opportunity for multiple stakeholders to explore carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning issuesImage of hand checking the smoke alarm on the wall and list of safety tips in the Vermont-New Hampshire region. Several CO incident survivor and fatality stories were shared.

Toxicologists, a sleep disorder specialist, and fire officials talked about best practices during a panel presentation. Approaches to increase the use of CO alarms was also discussed.

The carbon monoxide safety page on the NFPA website provides facts, figures, a report, and links to a tip sheet in both English and Spanish on the hazards of CO and precautionary measures.

Babysitter plays frog game with child

Babysitting is serious, but fun work that requires that safety be the priority. It’s important that parents review safety issues and prepare the sitter in case an emergency arises. NFPA’s new Babysitting Safety tip sheet provides the guidance parents need for the conversation with the sitter about fire safety.

The tip sheet includes information on escape planning, cooking safety, and what to do if the smoke alarm sounds.

 

U.S. fire departments respond to an estimated average of 210 home structure fires per year that began with Christmas trees per NFPA's most recent report on the topic. These fires cause an annual average of six civilian deaths, 16 civilian injuries, and $16.2 million in direct property damage. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are much more likely to be deadly than most other fires.


In this video above, you'll get a side-by-side demonstration of how quickly a dry Christmas tree will go up in flames, especially when compared with a well-watered tree. 

 

Be sure to keep your tree watered regularly, and keep anything that can burn (candles, stockings, etc) at least three feet away. For more on Christmas tree fire safety visit our Project Holiday website

Images of winter freeze checklist, project holiday page, Christmas Tree Safety and Winter Holiday Safety tip sheets

The Parent Page of sparky.org offers one-stop-shopping for parent resources this holiday season. Included are links to the Project Holiday page of fire statistics, videos, activity sheets and tips for a safe holiday season; the Get Ahead of the Winter Freeze checklist, which provides 10 tips to prepare for the heating season; and the Christmas Tree Safety; and Winter Holiday Safety tip sheets for decking the halls and entertaining safely.

NFPA Winter Tip Sheet

With Thanksgiving kicking off the holiday season, we now find ourselves in the throes of decorating, cooking and entertaining for the next couple of months. While the season is a wonderful time of year for families and friends to get together, it also means we need to be mindful of the things that can increase the risk of fire in our homes.


The fact is, there are more home fires in winter than in any other season. But this doesn’t mean you have to be afraid of celebrating this special time of year. Take a look at NFPA’s winter holiday safety tips sheet and you'll know what I mean. It provides simple action steps you can take while preparing for all of the festivities in your calendar. Get information about holiday decorating, entertaining, candles and more from this one-page sheet. Download, print it out and tape it to your fridge so it’s within reach whenever you need it.


So what are you waiting for? Download the tips sheet today and get decorating! And don't forget to share this valuable information with all the people you love this holiday season!

Blue and white image of Project Holiday banner

It’s time to deck the halls and raise awareness in your community about fire safety. “Project Holiday,” NFPA’s annual holiday fire safety campaign, provides a comprehensive library of information to help ensure the holiday season is a safe one. Consider these statistics:

Holiday cooking: On Christmas Day 2014, there were 780 reported fires in the U.S. involving cooking equipment, 65 percent above the average number of fires per day. On Christmas Eve there were 750 cooking fires reported, 57 percent above the average.

Candle fires: From 2009 to 2013 candles started 38 percent of home decoration structure fires. The top four days for home candle fires were New Year’s Day, Christmas, Near Year’s Eve, and Christmas Eve.

Christmas trees: Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they occur, they are more likely to be serious. From 2009 to 2013, U.S. fire department responded to an average of 210 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 7 deaths, 19 injuries, and $17.5 million in direct property damage annually.

“Project Holiday” provides easy access to not only these and other statistics, but safety tip sheets, videos, and materials for the kids.

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: