Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

Many people look forward to decorating for the holidays, whether you are decorating for Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, it is an exciting time. Unfortunately, many people are injured or die from causes related to holiday lights, decorations, candles and Christmas trees.

Tips to help make your holiday safe:


  • Never leave burning candles unattended
  • Keep candles, matches and lighters away from children
  • Do not burn candles all the way down
  • Only use holders made specifically for candles
  • Make sure candle is on a heat-resistant, sturdy surface
  • When burning more than one candle, keep them at least 3 inches apart
  • Use a candle snuffer to extinguish candles
  • Do not touch or move candle when wax is liquid
  • Trim wick to 1/4 inch before using each time


  • Look for “Fire Resistant” label when purchasing an artificial tree. It doesn’t mean the tree won’t catch fire, but it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should be able to extinguish quickly.
  • If you’re purchasing a live tree, make sure it is a fresh tree that is green with needles that are hard to pull off the branches and don’t break when bent between your fingers. When tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose a lot of needles. The trunk should have a sticky resin on it.
  • Keep the tree away from fireplaces, radiators and any other heat sources.
  • Cut two inches off the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption.
  • Keep the stand filled with water at all times.
  • Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Secure a large tree to the ceiling or walls.

Lights –

  • Make sure lights have been tested for safety. Check for label from an independent testing laboratory.
  • Do not use more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
  • Check each set of lights, new and old ones, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw away any damaged sets.
  • Securely fasten outdoor lights to house, trees, walls or other firm support.
  • Turn off all lights on trees and any other decorations when you leave the house or go to bed. Lights could short and start a fire.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. Faulty lights could cause anyone touching a branch to be electrocuted. Instead, use colored spotlights beside the tree, never fastened onto it.

Fireplace –

  • Keep a screen in front of the fireplace at all times when a fire is burning.
  • Remove all greens, boughs, papers and any other decorations from fireplace area before lighting any fire.
  • Make sure flue is open.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in fireplace.

General –

  • Don’t overload electrical outlets.
  • For outdoor decorations, only use decorations/lights/extension cords that are labeled safe for outdoor use.
  • Make sure outdoor decorations are secure for bad weather/storms.
  • Do not wear loose clothing near open flames.
  • Check for and eliminate any possible dangerous areas near trees, candles, fireplaces and electrical connections.

Have an emergency plan already made to use if a fire does break out anywhere in the home. Be sure each person in the family knows what to do. Practice the plan.