CAL FIRE Warns of Holiday Season Dangers

Sacramento - The holiday season festivities bring an increased excitement about adorning homes with traditional decorations, but as beautiful as they are, holiday decorations are an added home fire hazard. CAL FIRE and firefighters across California are asking the public to give their families and themselves the most important holiday gift: a fire safe holiday.

Holiday decoration fires are most likely to happen in the living room, family room or den. Almost half of all home decoration fires are started by candles, mostly because the decorations were placed too close to a heat source.

In 2011, nearly 300 Christmas tree and holiday decoration fires were reported to the CAL FIRE - Office of the State Fire Marshal. “In just seconds, a dry Christmas tree can become fully engulfed in flames,” said State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover, CAL FIRE-Office of the State Fire Marshal. “By practicing a little extra fire safety this holiday season, you can help reduce the number of holiday decoration-related fire tragedies.”

CAL FIRE offers these safety tips to ensure a safe and happy holiday season:

Christmas Trees

  • When selecting your live Christmas tree, choose a fresh one with green needles.
  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut two inches from the base of the trunk for better water absorption.
  • Check the water level in the tree stand every day.
  • Keep both live and artificial trees at least 3 feet away from any heat source including fireplaces and heating vents.
  • Decorate Christmas trees with lights that have been tested and labeled by a recognized testing lab.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate any tree.
  • Unplug Christmas tree lights when leaving home or going to bed.

Holiday Decorations

  • Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors.
  • Replace any light strings that are worn or have broken cords or have loose bulb connections.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Keep your exits clear by keeping decorations away from windows and doors.

For more holiday safety tips, please visit the CAL FIRE website at

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