Artificial or Real: Fire Safety for Christmas Trees


When it comes to Christmas, the debate between real and artificial trees can be fierce. Both sides have compelling arguments. For many families, the tradition of selecting the perfect tree is cherished. On the other hand, artificial trees offer convenience without the hassle of dropping needles and demanding water (Plus, they can look remarkably lifelike).

At Extinguishing Ornaments, we have noticed a lot of customers say; but my tree is artificial, it won't catch fire. Unfortunately, YES THEY CAN! According to the National Fire Prevention Association, fires involving artificial trees account for around 25% of Christmas tree fires. While they can be less flammable, they do present certain hazards that can be easily avoided. Here are some essential safety tips for both artificial Christmas trees:

1. Purchase a safe tree: 

  • Look for a UL 2358 rating or at least a fire-resistant rating. This will ensure the tree itself is less likely to burn at a dangerous speed if it does catch fire.

2. Cleaning Your Tree:

  • Unless you store your tree in a sealed container, it may accumulate dust and debris in your attic or basement, which can become dangerously flammable when combined with string lights. Wipe down the branches with a clean, damp cloth.

2. Inspecting Lights:

  • Before hanging lights, carefully inspect the strings for cracked lamp holders, missing or broken bulbs, and frayed or bare wires.

3. Preventing Electrical Overload:

  • Overloading electrical outlets is a potential fire hazard. The NFPA reports that electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 40% of Christmas tree fires, with the majority occurring with real trees. It's essential to prevent any electrical overload by using surge protectors and avoiding excessive decorations.

4. Opt for LED Lights:

  • LED lights are a safer choice when they are UL-rated as well. They produce less heat compared to conventional lights and are more energy-efficient.

5. Keep Your Tree Away from Heat Sources:

  • Ensure there's at least a three-foot clearance between your tree and any heat sources, such as plug-in heaters, boilers, or other heating appliances.  

6. Never use real flames:

  • Never use real candles in trees, or place within a close distance of a fireplace where embers could reach the tree.  

7. Turn Off Lights Before Bed:

  • Unplug your lights or utilize a power strip with a timer to automatically switch them off before going to bed. This simple measure adds an extra layer of safety to your holiday decorations
8. Choose the right decorations:
  • Ensure that new decorations have a fire resistant rating, and limit the number of decorations on the tree. Choose metal decorations whenever possible. 


In summary, if you opt for an artificial Christmas tree, fire safety should be a top priority during the holiday season. Artificial trees are generally safer, but they still require careful maintenance and safety precautions. For more detailed information visit this UL post titled "Reducing the Fire Hazard of Pre-Lit Artificial Christmas Trees". By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the holiday season with peace of mind, knowing that your cherished Christmas tree is a beautiful and safe addition to your home.