Christmas Tree Safety: 7 Life-Saving Ways to Prevent Fires

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: February 16, 2024

For a wonderful while, it’s the most beautiful decoration in your home. Whether it’s tall, short, slender or plump, the Christmas tree stands at the center of holiday celebrations. It also stands as a seasonal addition to the house that needs to be treated with special care.

As you make plans to bring home this year’s fir or spruce, are you checking your Christmas tree fire safety list?

We offer this guide for keeping your Christmas tree safe based on our years of experience as Chicago’s most trusted fire damage cleanup company. We want you to celebrate the season with the security that comes from knowing your home is safe for the holidays.

7 Christmas Tree Safety Tips for Happy Holidays

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, Christmas tree fires cause property damage totaling more than $14 million annually. That figure can’t account for the heartbreak of a house fire over the holidays. These seven simple tips can keep your home and family safe while you all enjoy the Christmas tree’s bright lights and warm glow.

1. Check for Freshness

Look for a tree with soft, green needles, and confirm its freshness by closing your hand over a bough and gently pulling down. If needles fall off at your touch, the tree is already beginning to dry out, and that can pose a fire hazard.

2. Give It a Stable Stand

Safely show off your Christmas tree in a sturdy, weighted stand with screw-in stabilizers that help anchor its weight. A large stand also holds plenty of water for keeping a thirsty tree fresh inside your home.

3. Stand It Away From Heat

Make sure the tree is standing at least 3 feet away from any heat source including space heaters, radiators and the family fireplace. High temperatures, flames and embers are serious fire hazards around a Christmas tree.

4. Watch the Kids

A beautiful tree can tempt little hands with pretty ornaments and inspire rowdy playtime around its base. Talk to the kids about home fire safety. Explain that running around close to the tree can topple it and start a fire.

5. Watch Pets Too

The family dog and cat can create Christmas tree fire hazards too. Discourage dangerous chewing and tangling accidents by hanging tree light strands and decorations above your pets’ playful reach.

6. Turn Everything Off

Always unplug tree lights before you leave the house or go to bed for the night. Turn off nearby space heaters, extinguish candles, and make sure embers are out in the fireplace.

7. Give It an Honorable Goodbye

When a Christmas tree stops taking up water and starts dropping needles, it becomes more of a fire hazard with each passing day. Give the tree an honorable goodbye at one of 24 recycling centers across Chicago and the suburbs. You can also pick up free mulch at some locations.

How to Keep a Christmas Tree From Drying Out

This part of Christmas tree fire safety deserves special attention because it keeps your tree fresher through the holidays, and that reduces the risk of a house fire. Good tree maintenance starts before you set it up in its stand.

• Saw 2 inches off the bottom of the tree stump, but don’t peel back lower bark or drill holes in the trunk.
• If you can’t put the tree in its stand right away, prop it up in a large water bucket, and check it daily.
• Monitor the tree’s water level every couple of hours on the first day. Afterwards, top it off every 24 hours.

Can Christmas Lights Cause a Fire?

We’re often asked about decorations this time of year, so we finish up our Christmas fire safety guide with important pointers about lights on the tree.

• Always purchase Christmas tree lights that carry the Underwriters Laboratory UL Seal.
• Inspect strands for frayed wires and broken sockets, and toss anything that looks damaged.
• Don’t overload the tree with older incandescent lights or run too many strands from one extension cord.
• Don’t connect incandescent and LED strands together, and keep them on separate extension cords.

We’re Always Here for You

This year, gather the family around for a quick review of Christmas tree safety strategies. Make sure everybody understands how important it is to follow the guidelines. Print out our tips for easy sharing, and tell us about your home holiday safety plans through our Comments Section.

All of us here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba send our warmest wishes to you and your family. It’s our honor to serve and be a part of this wonderful community, and we really value your support. Our teams are always here for you, all of Chicago and the suburbs with the best fire damage cleanup and fire restoration services available.