Despite advances in building materials, training and awareness, fires are still one of the leading causes of insurance losses. In 2016, a fire department in the US responded to a fire every 24 seconds on average.

Every year, you hear stories about how a fire was caused by a Christmas tree. We thought now would be a good time to remind everyone of a few simple steps to be safe this Holiday Season.

The movie Christmas Vacation has a number of very funny scenes surrounding their Christmas Tree, including several that outline some very real dangers. If you’ll remember, the dog drank the water from the tree, the cat chewed on the wires for the lights, and Uncle Lewis lit his cigar next to the tree. Funny scenes, but all very real dangers.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) from 2010-2014 US fire departments responded to an average of 210 fires per year that started with a Christmas tree (that’s 1,050 fires over the course of those 5 years). These fires caused on average 6 civilian deaths, 16 civilian injuries and an estimated $16.2 million in property damage.

Some additional sobering statistics from the NFPA:

  • On average, one of every 34 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home fires. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are much more likely to be deadly than most other fires.
  • Four of every five Christmas tree fires occurred in December and January.
  • In one-quarter (26%) of the Christmas tree fires and 80% of the deaths, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.

The good news is that majority of these fires could have been prevented with some simple changes and precautions.


  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.


  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.


  • Use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed


  • Get rid of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home.
  • Check with your local community to find a recycling program.
  • Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

Please share this article with your friends to help them stay safe this holiday as well. We’ve also have a PDF from the NFPA that you can download and share with your family and friends. Christmas Tree Safety Tips PDF

About Kevin Panter Insurance

Located in Blue Ridge Georgia, and serving all of Fannin and surrounding counties, Kevin Panter Insurance is one of the leading independent insurance agencies in Northern Georgia. Representing the finest auto and home insurance carriers and the leading business insurance companies, Kevin Panter Insurance can provide you with the best in insurance value.