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Christmas Tree Fires: How Common Are They?

Posted in Personal Injury on November 17, 2021

You’ve carefully positioned, adorned, and lit your tree. Now, it’s sitting beautifully in the corner of your living room. The centerpiece of your holiday decor. But is your focal point also a fire hazard?

Of course, you’ve heard the stories. You know that Christmas tree fires are a homeowner’s worst nightmare. And yet, these festive mainstays are beautiful, fragrant, and authentic. Do you really want to make the switch to a fake tree this year?

If you’re looking for facts, statistics, and practical information about Christmas fires, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll help you decide whether a traditional tree is worth the risk.

How Often Do Christmas Tree Fires Happen?

Unfortunately, Christmas tree fires are not a myth. They do happen, just less often than you might think. Still, it’s a risk to keep in mind throughout the holiday season.

Between 2014 and 2018, there were 160 cases of Christmas tree fires across the nation. On average, that comes to about 40 each year. That may sound like a fair amount — until you remember there are around 25 million Christmas trees sold yearly in the U.S.

All things considered, your risk of a fire is pretty low—even if it’s not quite zero.

When Fires Do Happen, They Can Be Disastrous

If Christmas tree fires are so rare, why do you hear about them so often? That’s a great question; one with a rather unfortunate answer. When these disasters do take place, they have a tendency to be quite serious.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the annual cost of Christmas tree fires is $10 million in property damage. That’s $10 million for around 40 fires. In addition to destroying homes, of course, these fires can result in significant burn injuries and death.

So while these fires don’t happen with great frequency, it is worth the extra effort to prevent them.

How Can You Avoid a Fire?

Here is a quick list of tips for avoiding a Christmas tree fire:

Pick a Tree that is Fresh and Hydrated

Picking the right tree can help you get off on the right foot. Stay away from trees with brown and brittle needles—those plants are older, dryer, and more flammable. Your best option will be one with bright green foliage and soft, flexible needles.

Water the Tree Daily

The Christmas season is notoriously busy. With this in mind, don’t buy a real tree unless you can commit to checking the water levels daily.

Don’t let your reservoir run dry. It may help you to know that medium-to-large trees need around a gallon of water daily. Underwatering your trees can increase your risk.

Position the Tree in a Safe Place

The vast majority of Christmas tree fires start because the tree was placed next to a heat source. When you are positioning your tree, avoid heat vents, fireplaces, and radiators. A safe distance is generally three feet or more.

Use High-Quality Lights

Is your old strand of twinkle lights beginning to fray? Then it’s time for an upgrade. If you notice any exposed wiring or broken bulbs, you’ll know the lights aren’t safe for a real tree.

Electrical failures or malfunctions are involved in nearly a third of Christmas tree fires. In addition to fire risk, faulty wires can cause risk of electrocution.

Is It Time to Buy a Fake Tree?

At the end of the day, the answer to this question comes down to commitment. If you love the age-old tradition of a real tree, go ahead! Just make sure you’re ready to commit to the safe practices mentioned in this post so that you and your family can enjoy a safe holiday.