Homes fires at highest during Christmas Eve and Day
As we approach the winter months and holiday season, it’s important to keep in mind the increased risk of home fires. Christmas Day and Christmas Eve are among the leading days of the year for home fires in the United States, topped only by Thanksgiving Day.
There are a number of factors that contribute to the increased risk of fires during this time of year. Christmas trees, holiday decorations, cooking, and baking all play a role. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated average of 160 home fires that began when Christmas trees caught fire caused an average of two civilian deaths, 12 civilian injuries, and $10 million in direct property damage per year between 2015 and 2019. Electrical distribution or lighting equipment, including decorative lights, was involved in almost half of these fires, and nearly one in five Christmas tree fires were started by decorative lights.
Decorations other than Christmas trees also pose a risk. An estimated average of 790 home fires that began when decorations caught fire caused an average of one civilian death, 26 civilian injuries, and $13 million in direct property damage per year between 2015 and 2019. One in five home decoration fires occurred in December, and in more than two of every five fires involving decorations, the decoration was too close to a heat source such as a candle, cooking or heating equipment.
Candles are another common cause of home fires during the holiday season. An estimated average of 7,400 home fires started by candles caused an average of 90 civilian deaths, 670 civilian injuries, and $291 million in direct property damage per year between 2015 and 2019. Candle fires peak in December and January, with 11 percent of candle fires in each of these months. In three of every five candle fires, the candle was too close to something that could catch fire, and falling asleep was a factor in 10 percent of home candle fires and 12 percent of associated deaths.
Cooking is the leading cause of reported home fires, home fire injuries, and the second-leading cause of home fire deaths. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires. Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
To reduce the risk of home fires during the holiday season, the NFPA offers a variety of tips and resources. Make sure your Christmas tree is watered regularly and kept away from heat sources, and use only tested and approved decorative lights. Keep decorations away from heat sources and never leave candles unattended. When cooking, stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on food that’s cooking on the stove. By taking a few basic safety precautions, you can help protect your home and family from the risk of fire this holiday season.