Holiday Fire Safety Tips


The holiday season is upon us, bringing millions of people together to observe a tapestry of religious and spiritual traditions. A common theme with many of these traditions is the use of light and decorations to celebrate. The increased use of candles, fireplaces, and combustible decorations means more risk for fire. It is important that employees and tenants know the property rules and regulations as they relate to holiday fire safety for your organization. Below are some tips and suggestions to help make the holiday safe and joyful.

Candle Fire Safety

The National Candle Association says that over a third of candle sales occur during the holiday season, using over 30 million pounds of wax. That's a lot of flickering flames lighting up homes and businesses. However, these festive sources of cheer can also be sources of disaster. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that over 50% of home decoration fires reported in the month of December are started by candles, with the two peak days for candle fires occurring on Christmas and Christmas Eve.

The most immediate solution to protect against candle fires is to use flameless candles, but it may be difficult to forgo the use of traditional candles for important traditions such as lighting the menorah during Hanukkah. If so, follow these tips to help keep people and property safe:

  • If you exit, extinguish it. Never leave a burning candle unattended
  • Place candles at least 12 inches away from other highly combustible items, such as other decorations, drapes, and furniture
  • Candle holders and the surfaces where they are placed should be sturdy, difficult to tip over, and clear of clutter
  • Children should not be left alone in a room with lit candles or any open flame
  • Never use a candle if oxygen cylinders are used in the home or building

Do's and Don'ts for Holiday Lights

Clark W. Griswold wanted to provide his family with a stunning Christmas light display in the holiday classic National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, but gave us a list of decorating don'ts in the process. Here are some tips for using holiday lights safely:

  • Do not overcrowd outlets. This Old House suggests keeping an outlet's total load under 15 amps
  • Check Christmas lights for damaged or exposed wiring and missing or broken bulbs and replace as needed
  • Lights should be used based on the manufacturer's instructions; inside lights should not be used outside and vice versa
  • Check the condition of extension cords and power strips
  • DO NOT DAISY CHAIN POWER STRIPS (plugging one power strip into another)
  • Use clips or hooks instead of nails or staples when hanging lights so they are not damaged

Christmas Tree Fire Prevention

The Christmas tree is one of the most recognizable symbols of the holiday season, but is also one of the top causes of holiday fires. Keep these tips in mind when trimming the tree:

  • If using a real tree, go for the freshest tree possible and keep it watered daily so it does not dry out
  • Never use lit candles as tree decorations
  • Keep trees at least three feet from any heat sources (fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, etc.)

According to the NFPA, one of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. Check out this video to see just how quickly a dried out Christmas tree can burn:


Additional Holiday Fire Safety Resources

Here are some additional resources to help make sure your holiday is the brightest it can be:

PHLY agents and policyholders can access additional risk reduction information by logging into your MyPHLY account and selecting Risk Management Services.


IMPORTANT NOTICE - The information and suggestions presented by Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company is for your consideration in your loss prevention efforts. They are not intended to be complete or definitive in identifying all hazards associated with your business, preventing workplace accidents, or complying with any safety related, or other, laws or regulations. You are encouraged to alter them to fit the specific hazards of your business and to have your legal counsel review all of your plans and company policies.

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