Christmas Tree Safety

Each year, fire departments respond to an average of 210 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. Carefully decorating Christmas trees can help make your holidays safer. Please review the following safety tips and download the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) safety tips flyer (PDF) on Christmas tree safety.

Picking the Tree


If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant. Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

Placing the Tree


  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1 inch - 2 inches from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source such as:
    • Candles
    • Fireplaces
    • Heat Vents
    • Lights
    • Radiators
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting the Tree


  • Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than 3 strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer's instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
This National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) / UL video demonstrates the flammability of a dry Christmas tree versus a tree that has been watered regularly.

After Christmas


Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.