According to the National Fire Protection Association, one in every six Christmas tree fires are caused by a heating source that is too close. What could start as a small fire, can grow large very quickly with a Christmas tree.

“For a great number of Hoosiers, selecting and decorating a Christmas tree is an annual holiday tradition,” says Indiana State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson. “Families can help keep this a joyful tradition every year by making sure their Christmas tree is carefully selected and properly cared for to reduce any fire risks”.

Fire safety tips when picking out and maintaining your tree:

  • When buying a live Christmas tree, choose the freshest tree possible. Harvest at a Christmas tree farm, or select a freshly cut tree that hasn’t been on the sales lot long.
  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • If you choose an artificial tree, be sure it is identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.

Christmas Tree Maintenance

  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1-2” from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source.
  • Make sure the tree does not block an exit.
  • Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. Add water daily to the tree stand. Live Christmas trees dry out quickly once they’re brought into a home. A dry Christmas tree can quickly go up in flames.

Tree Lights and Decorations

  • Make sure to examine all lights and ornaments when decorating a tree.
  • Some lights are either for indoor or outdoor use only, while some may be used in either location. Make sure the lights are appropriate for the venue.
  • Replace any string of lights that have worn, in addition to broken cords and broken bulbs.
  • Periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch. If they do feel warm, replace them.
  • Never decorate the tree with lit candles.
  • Always be sure to turn the tree lights off before leaving home or going to bed.

This video illustrates how quickly a dry Christmas tree will burn.