Seasonal cheer without fire fear
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Seasonal cheer without fire fear

by American Modern October 23, 2023

Many of us take Christmas tree traditions very seriously. It is no wonder that trees are the centerpiece of our holidays and add a touch of magic and warmth all season long. For many, December brings wonder, anticipation, and joy. Unfortunately, it also brings an increased risk of fire with all the added glow of glittery lights and flickering candles. Christmas trees and holiday lighting-associated fires result in about $18 million dollars in property damage each year. In particular, these holiday-related fires are three times as deadly than other fires.

Follow these tips to protect your family and your home this holiday season. 

  1. Check before buying. When making one of the most important holiday decisions, select the freshest tree. Fresh trees have softer, vibrant green needles that do not fall when brushed and don’t break from the branches easily. Avoid a cheaper, dry tree –it shouldn’t be shedding its needles so soon!
  2. Keep your tree well-watered. Keep the tree base filled with water daily to prevent it from drying out. When the tree is watered regularly, its’ branches and needles stay more agile and healthy.
  3. Keep your tree away from all heat sources. This includes fireplaces, radiators, candles, space heaters, heat vents or lights. The string lights on your tree are designed with a lower voltage, but try to dodge them touching ornaments.
  4. Inspect lights before using. Always decorate with care; Make sure all your Christmas lights use low energy and are UL tested (or another recognized laboratory) for safety. And always dispose of any damaged Christmas lights. This includes exposed wires, broken sockets, and faulty light strands.
  5. Don’t overload the power strip. Check the capacity of your power strip and never plug more than three strings of lights into one outlet. It’s also a good idea to fasten cords along walls to prevent tripping. And never place cords under rugs or carpets!
  6. Wash your hands after stringing your lights. Some wires are coated with a material that contains lead, which can be dangerous. But washing your hands thoroughly after stringing your lights will illuminate this issue.
  7. Always turn off the lights. Don’t forget to turn your Christmas tree lights off when you leave the house and when you go to bed each night. In addition, keep all your holiday candles away from your Christmas tree, surrounding furniture and décor.
  8. Artificial trees 101. If you opt for an artificial tree, check the safety guidelines and product information online or on the packaging. They should be flame resistant and just like Christmas lights, have a seal for an approved safety testing laboratory if the tree contains a built-in lighting set.
  9. Be prepared for home fire safety. Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby and make sure everyone – even the kids – knows where it is and how to use it.
  10. Recycle your tree. Trees are generally safe to have in your home for 4 weeks. You can give them a second life by recycling them. Many neighborhoods will set up drop off locations for recycling. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity may also take your tree as a donation for building materials. You can also use recycled trees for shelter for your backyard wildlife. Or, use the branches as mulch for perennials. Starting a compost pile is a great use for recycled trees as well.

Share these tips with your neighbors, family and friends to help everyone stay safe this holiday season.


For informational use only. Not applicable to all situations.

American Modern

American Modern is a widely recognized specialty insurance leader that delivers products and services for residential property--like manufactured homes and specialty dwellings--and for consumers in the recreational market, including owners of boats, personal watercraft, classic cars, motorcycles, ATVs and snowmobiles. For more information, visit