It’s the most decorative time of the year! But with decorations come flammable hazards. Christmas trees, while beautiful and cheery, are incredibly susceptible to fires. To keep your family safe this year, here are six essential Christmas tree safety tips you should follow:

1) Choose the freshest tree possible

Choosing the freshest pine tree possible will give you a huge advantage against potential fires. A dry tree with loose pine needles can be a hazardous combination. If you’re purchasing an artificial tree, just make sure it comes with a label marked “fire-retardant”. If you’re looking to buy a real tree, check for the following:

  • Needles should be green and hard to pull from branches
  • When bent between your fingers, the needles should not break
  • When tapped, the tree should not lose many needles (or else it is too dry)

2) Place the tree in a very safe spot

The placement of your Christmas tree isn’t just for decorative purposes. It’s important to keep it away from anything that could set it alight. When setting up your tree inside the house, heed the following:

  • Place the tree away from fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, TV sets, or heater vents
  • Keep the tree in a tree stand with plenty of water (heated rooms try out trees rapidly) — the tree stand should hold at least one gallon of water
  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood (this will aid in water absorption)

3) Decorate the tree with safe products

Now that the heavy lifting is over, it’s time to decorate! Decorating can be the most rewarding part of having a Christmas tree. But when you’re breaking out those boxes of ornaments and other decorations, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials
  • Use snow spray that is labeled “nontoxic” to avoid lung irritation
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree
  • Use a secure stepladder or stool when decorating the tree’s higher limbs
    • According to prominent Sacramento personal injury lawyers, injuries from ladder falls are more common during the winter holiday season due to interior and exterior decorating

Bonus tip: If you have small children, avoid decorations that resemble candy or food — they could eat them! If you have pets, avoid placing decorations too low, within their reach.

4) Monitor anything using electricity

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), electrical failures or malfunctions typically account for 25% of Christmas tree fires. Keep your house safe from electrical fires this Christmas with the following tips:

  • Only use lights that have been tested for safety; there should be a label from an independent testing laboratory
  • Check your lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed wires, or loose connections
  • Use only one extension cord per outlet
  • Keep cords and lights away from the tree’s water supply
  • Position bulbs so they are not in direct contact with ornaments or needles
  • Turn off all decorative lights before going to bed or leaving the house

5) Keep gifts away from heat

Wrapping paper and boxes are extremely flammable. Make sure you do not place gifts near open flames or electrical connections. They should be placed near the tree but not touching any lights or electrical ornaments. After the gifts are opened, be sure to place all paper and boxes away from the tree and fireplace areas. Do not burn any of the waste in the fireplace — wrapping paper can ignite suddenly and burn intensely. It can also contain chemicals that are not safe to breathe when burned.

6) Dispose of the tree properly

When Christmas is over and the tree begins to drop needles, it’s time to dispose of it in a responsible manner. The longer the tree stays up, the more likely it becomes a fire hazard. Make sure to do the following when disposing of your Christmas tree:

  • Do not leave your tree in the house or store it in the garage
  • Dispose of your tree at a tree recycling center (typically where you originally bought the tree)
  • Do not burn your Christmas tree or any of its needles in a fireplace or wood stove
    • Needles burn quickly and fiercely, leading them to flare up out of control


With these six Christmas tree safety tips, you and your family can celebrate the holidays in peace. For more tips about safety-related Christmas decorating, check out these resources from the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).