Holiday Safety Tips

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Holiday Fires

The year-end holiday season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year's Eve is also fire season, a prime time for residential fires. Decorative lights, candles, parties where people drink and smoke, and, most of all, the onset of the heating season, increase the likelihood of a fire.

Choose fire-safe toys

When buying children's presents, avoid toys made of highly flammable materials, and be sure that all electric toys bear the label of an independent testing laboratory.

Give space heaters space

Keep space heaters at least three feet (one meter) away from furniture, bedding, walls, clothing and other things that can burn. Always use the proper fuel for liquid-fueled heaters, be sure they are vented properly, and refill them only in well-ventilated areas and when they are cool. Make sure the type of space heater you use is legal in your area and bears the label of an independent testing laboratory.

Holiday lights

Be sure all indoor and outdoor holiday lights bear the label of an independent testing laboratory. Throw away any sets of lights with cracked or frayed cords or loose or damaged sockets. Do not overload electrical outlets or run extension cords under carpets, across doorways, or near heaters. Be sure extension cords aren't pinched behind or under furniture, and unplug all decorative lights before leaving your home or going to bed. Never use electric lights on a metal Christmas tree.

Party safety

Use only flame-retardant or noncombustible materials for costumes and decorations. Use chafing dishes with caution. Provide smokers with large, deep non-tip ashtrays, and keep an eye on anyone who is drinking and smoking.

Watch children

Use only lighters with a child-resistant feature. Keep all matches and lighters out of children's reach up high and preferably in a locked cabinet. Teach young children to stay away from candles, fireplaces and space heaters. Teach and supervise older children to light candles and fireplace fires safely.

Christmas trees

Choose a freshly cut Christmas tree. If you're not cutting it yourself, buy a tree that is not shedding its needles. Cut the trunk at an angle and install the tree in a large, deep, non-tip stand well away from fireplaces, exits and heat sources. Be sure your tree has a constant supply of water; check the level daily. Remove your tree promptly if it becomes dry. Store it well away from your home until you can dispose of it. If you use an artificial tree, be sure its flame-retardant.


Have your chimney inspected by a professional at least once a year and have it cleaned if necessary. Always use a fire screen, and burn only material appropriate for fireplaces. Never burn trash or paper in a fireplace; burning paper can float up your chimney and onto your roof or into your yard. Remove ashes in a metal container. Because they may rekindle, never store ashes in your home.


Before you light them, put candles in non-tip candle holders. Never burn candles near a Christmas tree or combustible decorations or displays. Keep candles well away from curtains and other combustibles, and never put candles in windows or near exits. Don't leave candles burning unattended or within the reach of small children. Extinguish candles before you leave a room or go to bed.


  • Use candles with care.
  • Keep an eye on children.
  • Select toys with safety in mind.
  • Choose a fresh Christmas tree, and keep it watered.
  • Inspect decorative lights for damage.
  • Give space heaters space.