Dec 23, 2013 8:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

Elaborate meals, flickering candles, a roaring fireplace and that splendid Christmas tree are some of the best things about the season. They also increase the danger of home fires, the U.S. Fire Administration warns, which has some scary statistics to back that up. Read this list of flammable hazards to avoid, and check it twice.


Home fires caused by candles peak during the Christmas season. Decorations, wrapping paper, and boxes too close to candles cause 56 percent of candle-related fires.

Safety Tips: Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything flammable, including holiday décor. Light them in your kitchen or dining room during mealtime instead of placing them in rooms where you may forget to blow them out. Never leave candles burning when you are not at home.


Unattended cooking causes most kitchen fires, and during the holiday hubbub it’s even easier for cooks to get distracted. Ranges account for 58 % of cooking fires, and ovens, 16%. Frying is the riskiest cooking method of all.

Safety Tips: Keep your cooking areas free of towels and other flammable objects. Use a splatter screen instead of a lid while frying food. Don’t leave your cooking range unattended. And keep children away from the kitchen during meal prep.


More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as a primary heat source in their home in the winter. In rural areas, heating fires cause 36% of residential fires each year, mostly because of built-up creosote in chimneys and stovepipes.

Safety Tips: Properly dispose of ashes. Ashes must be cool and be disposed of at least 10 feet from your home or other structures in a metal container. Douse the ashes in water before emptying them. Never use flammable liquid to start a fire. Have your chimney and wood stove inspected and cleaned every year.

Christmas Trees

Electrical problems cause one of every three home Christmas tree fires. Though uncommon, these are the home fires most likely to result in death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Safety Tips: Check lights before decorating the tree. If you use traditional screw-in light sets, never string more than 50 bulbs on your tree at a time. Use only UL-listed devices. Keep heat sources such as matches, lamps and electrical heaters at least 3 feet away from your tree. Real trees must be kept moist; place them in a reservoir full of water and check it frequently, especially the first few days, when it absorbs the most water. Remember, a dry tree is extremely flammable.

prevention fire safety burn prevention

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