One in Ten People Experience Fire-Related Safety Issues with Their Christmas Tree, Says Survey

Stay safe this holiday season by following these easy Christmas tree fire safety tips.

It’s almost the holiday season, and if you’re opting for a real Christmas tree for its authentic look and scent, you’ll want to keep several things in mind to avoid accidents. Essential safety measures such as unplugging the lights before leaving the house or going to bed are nonnegotiable if you want to stay safe this holiday season. Take a look at these shocking statistics.

Most People Don’t Take Care of Their Christmas Tree Properly

Surprisingly, many people aren’t following standard Christmas tree safety rules. According to results from an October 2022 Travelers Insurance survey, nearly one out of 10 people have experienced a fire or safety-related issue with their Christmas tree in the past. The survey, which compiled answers from 1,144 Americans, also revealed a general lack of care for real Christmas trees—something that doesn’t seem too important but can lead to an electrical fire.

For instance, only 60% of people unplug their Christmas tree before going to bed or leaving their homes. On top of this, 32% of people purchase a Christmas tree more than a month before Dec. 25, and 40% report keeping their tree up two weeks after Christmas, for a total of six or more weeks.

This wouldn’t be as large of an issue with proper tree maintenance, but neglectful care can lead to trees becoming a fire hazard which increases the risk of electrical fires. When a tree becomes too dry, the pine is highly flammable, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Dryness is a real problem, leading to another recent survey finding: almost half (40%) of people water their Christmas tree just once per week.

The dryness, combined with Christmas light dangers, is a recipe for disaster. Per Travelers, 64% of people don’t use approved lights or avoid connecting multiple extension cords to light their trees. This same percentage also doesn’t check to ensure their lights aren’t damaged, and a whopping 67% fail to unplug their tree lights before going to bed or leaving their home.

Knowledge of Christmas tree safety is imperative when bringing a real tree into your home, and bad habits can seriously endanger you, your family and your home.

Tips for Taking Care of a Real Christmas Tree

Keep your Christmas tree from becoming a ticking time bomb by using these holiday fire safety tips:

  • Before you take it home, make sure you’re choosing a fresh tree. Feel the needles. When they start falling off, it’s already becoming dry. Check that your tree is still healthy.
  • Some decorations are holiday fire hazards. Be mindful of where you put festive candles. Don’t put them anywhere near your Christmas tree.
  • Unplug your lights before you go to bed. If you’re leaving your house, don’t leave the lights on either.
  • Water your tree regularly. Good Christmas tree care includes keeping the water reservoir full. That means you should water it at least once a day.
  • Buy approved Christmas tree string lights. Avoid connecting multiple extension cords that increase fire risk.
  • Keep your tree as far away from heat sources as possible. Your heater can dry out your tree faster. So can excessive sunlight from windows. Position your tree at least five feet away from heat sources.

What About Artificial Trees?

An artificial tree requires less maintenance and fewer safety precautions, though you should still be mindful of some Christmas light dangers. Artificial trees also come with their own problems, like how to store them properly.

Remember to take care of your Christmas tree, and have a happy (and safe!) holiday season.

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Cianna Garrison
Cianna Garrison is a California-based freelance writer who covers everything from food news to tech to lifestyle. Her work has appeared in Elite Daily, How-To Geek, Review Geek, Truity, and other publications. She received her Bachelor's degree from Arizona State University in 2018. In her free time, she likes to read, write fiction and poetry, and perform in live theater.