Author(s): Jesse Roman. Published on November 2, 2015.

'Tis the Season

Resources for sharing the gift of holiday tree safety, including a tip sheet. BY JESSE ROMAN

WHILE THE HOLIDAYS are usually the most joyous time of the year, special precautions need to be taken to stay safe, especially when it comes to Christmas trees. For a reminder of why, look no further than the tragedy in Annapolis, Maryland, last January.

Just weeks after celebrating Christmas at their $6 million home, four young children and their grandparents were killed when a faulty electrical outlet sparked and ignited a 15-foot-high Fraser fir that was being used as a holiday tree. The tree, which had been cut 65 days earlier, was dry, propelling the fire’s rapid growth in the vicinity of the tree and subsequently throughout the 16,000-square-foot unsprinklered home, fire investigators found.

On average, Christmas trees ignite 210 home fires each year, according to an NFPA study that looked at data from 2009 to 2013. Those fires cause a yearly average of seven civilian deaths, 19 injuries, and $17.5 million in property damage, the study found. Christmas tree fires are also more deadly. On average, one of every 31 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 144 total reported home fires, the study found.

NFPA's Christmas webpage has a number of campaigns and resources aimed at keeping people safe during the holidays, including a Christmas tree safety tip sheet. 

JESSE ROMAN is staff writer for NFPA Journal. Top Photograph: Shutterstock