Christmas tree fires are not that common. However, when they do happen, they are much more dangerous and likely to kill than other types of fires.
Christmas Tree Fires are More Deadly
United States fire departments respond to an average of 200 residential house fires every year that started with the family Christmas tree. These fires result in 10 deaths and 20 injuries on average. Additionally, Christmas tree fires result in $17 million in property damage every year.
In fact, 1 out of every 32 Christmas tree fires results in death. That is considerably higher than the average residential home fire, which averages 1 death for every 143 fires. That means Christmas tree fires are almost 5 times more deadly than your average home fire.
When Do Christmas Tree Fires Happen?
42% of all fires related to Christmas trees happen in December. This is probably because more people are running their lights in December. Also, a lot of people take their tree down right after Christmas.
Still 37% of fires that start with the Christmas tree happen in January. And 21% of all Christmas tree fires happen in February. If you enjoy a live Christmas tree, be sure to keep it in plenty of water. When the needles start to fall off, it is best to take it down or keep the lights unplugged. See the video below to learn how dangerous un-watered trees can be compared with trees that are watered daily.
Causes of Christmas Tree Fires
In 2 out of every 5 fires starting with the Christmas tree are a result of electrical distribution or involved the lighting equipment.
- 18% Decorative Lights
- 13% Wiring or Other Related Equipment
- 6% Extension Cords and plugs
Any type of equipment that uses electricity can result in electrical failure and has the potential to start a filre.
24% of Christmas tree fires were started on purpose. If you burn your tree after Christmas, be sure that you do it safely and in accordance with your county’s burn ordinance. Marion County requires all backyard burning to occur on bare soil; 25 feet from all structures, wooded areas, and yard waste on your own property; 150 feet from your neighbors’ structures; and 50 feet from all public roads. Since 150 feet is half the length of a football field, most people living in sub-divisions will not meet setback requirements in Marion County. There are usually other requirements about the time of day and weather conditions as well. It is best to discard your tree in the local dump. (Marion County Burn Ordinance Requirements).
Heating equipment accounts for another 15% of all Christmas tree fires. Be sure that all space heaters, wood burning stoves, and fireplaces (of all kinds) are a safe distance from your tree. These are by far the most dangerous type of fires. In ¼ of Christmas tree fires and 80% that involved a death, a heat source was too close to the tree.
6% of these type of fires are started by someone playing with matches. The holidays are a busy time of year where adults have to maintain their regular responsibilities in addition to purchasing and wrapping gifts, planning more involved meals, attending holiday functions, and entertaining. Be sure that all matches and lighters are always kept out of reach.
For more information about Christmas tree fires, visit the National Fire Prevention Association at NFPA.org.
Be safe while you and your family enjoy this holiday season!
OneRestore is a Fire Damage Restoration Company in Gainesville, Ocala, The Villages and Crystal River, Florida.