Menorah candlesFor many, the holiday season represents a time for family festivities and good cheer. What few of us consider is that the holiday season is also a time of increased risk for home fires.

Christmas trees, candle usage, and holiday decorations contribute significantly to the seasonal causes of home fires. Add to that the hectic nature of the holidays, when people are trying to accomplish multiple tasks at once, and the chance for home fires grows even more.

Here are some tips for keeping your holiday season festive and safe for everybody.


  • Keep trees away from exits and at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, candles and heat vents or lights.
  • If using a real tree, water it daily to keep it from drying out.
  • If using an artificial tree, look for a label saying it is “fire resistant” or “fire retardant.” Although it doesn’t mean the tree will not catch fire, it does mean the tree is more resistant to doing so.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off tree lights before leaving the home or going to bed.
  • After the holidays, take advantage of the City of Madison’s Holiday Tree Collection. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home or garage.


  • Keep candles on stable, heat-resistant surfaces where children and pets cannot reach them or knock them over.
  • Set your candles at least 12 inches from any items that can catch fire.
  • Always blow out your candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Avoid using candles in the bedroom, where more than one-third of U.S. candle fires begin.


  • Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory
  • Make sure you know whether they are designed for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords, or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions to know the maximum number of light strands to connect.


  • Stay in your kitchen while frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove.
  • Turn off the stove when you leave the kitchen, even if it’s for a short period of time.
  • If you’re simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • Consider creating a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food and d rinks are prepared or carried.


Download this Winter Holiday Safety poster (NFPA) and share it with your household!

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Fire and a link back to the original post.

Category: Your Safety