Holiday Fire Safety Tips


The holidays are a special time of year but too often are impacted by a devastating fire.  Nearly 47,000 fires occur nationwide during the winter holidays claiming more than 500 lives, causing more than 2,200 injuries, and costing $554 million in property damage.**  Taking preventative steps, having a working smoke detector, and an exit plan can make all the difference.  Let’s start with a few facts:

Fast Facts

On average, one of every 22 home fires started by Christmas trees result in death.***

Candle fires are four times as likely to occur during the winter holidays.**

During the winter holiday season, an average of 40 home fires per day are caused by children playing.**

The number of home fires the American Red Cross has responded to has risen 10% since 2000.*

Having a working smoke alarm reduces one’s chances of dying in a fire by nearly half.** 

Here are a few tips for keeping your home safe against fire during the holiday season:

Preparedness Tips

Place Christmas trees, candles, and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.

Purchase flame retardant metallic or artificial trees. If you purchase a real tree, make sure that it has fresh, green needles that aren’t easily broken. Keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water.

Make sure that light strings and other holiday decorations are in good condition. Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.

Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.

Use only sturdy tree stands designed not to tip over. Keep curious pets and children away from Christmas trees.

Keep anything that can catch on fire—pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove top.

Designate one person to walk around your home to make sure that all candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished after guests leave.

Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year. 

If you do not have a smoke detector in your home, call the Houston area American Red Cross at 713-526-8300 or email to make a request.

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Create a fire escape plan identifying two escape routes from every room of the home and set a location outside of the home where family members can meet after escaping. Practice the escape plan at least twice a year, paying particular attention to children or older adults who may require extra time and care.

Visit for more information on how to keep your home safe from fires during the holidays.

If You Have a Home Fire:
Call 866-526-8300, Option 3. Available 24 hours a day. 

The Red Cross can assist you with immediate disaster assistance as well as help you as you navigate the road to recovery.

Help Your Community:
Teach your children about home fire safety:

Request a speaker in your school. The Pillowcase Project is a preparedness education program for grades 3 – 5, which teaches students about personal and family preparedness, local hazards, and basic coping skills. Email

Your local American Red Cross needs volunteers to install smoke alarms, educate our community about fire safety and help others after a fire:


Sources: * American Red Cross, ** U.S. Fire Administration, and the ***National Fire Protection.