Christmas tree and decoration fire safety tips

December is here, and many people are putting their decorations and trees up ahead of the holiday.

But what happens when those decorations turn deadly?

While fire departments only respond to an average of 200 Christmas tree fires per year, according to the National Fire Protection Association, those fires are deadlier than other types of home fires.

To help reduce the risk of Christmas tree fires, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office is sharing tips for consumers when you’re selecting, decorating and maintaining those Christmas trees.


  • If you choose an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled and certified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
  • If you choose a live tree, select one with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

A good test of a tree’s age is bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If needles fall off, the tree has been cut to long, has dried out and could be a fire hazard.


  • Before placing a live tree, cut two inches from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure any tree is displayed at least three feet away from any heat source. Fireplaces, radiators, candles and even heat vents can cause a live tree to dry out, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flames or sparks.
  • If using a live tree, do not leave it up longer than two weeks.
  • Make sure trees and other decorations aren’t blocking exits.
  • Add water to your tree stand daily.


  • Use lights that have been tested by an independent testing laboratory.
  • Ensure you are using the proper lights. Some are for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Replace any string lights with worn or broken cords. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree.
  • Always turn off decorative lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Keep all heat sources at least three feet away from a tree.


  • Get rid of your live tree when it starts dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home or garage or placed outside against the home.
  • Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove.

For more information on making your home fire safe, visit

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