HELENA — The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports US fire departments respond to an average of 160 fires started by Christmas trees each year.
Additionally, other types of holiday decorations are also responsible for hundreds of more fires annually — making the holiday season a particularly dangerous time for fires in the home.
The NFPA says these factors combined with others make Christmas Eve and Christmas Day among the leading days for house fires in the US.
Helena Fire Marshal Lou Antonick says the increased risk covers more than just Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
“Across the country, it's a significant increase on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Christmas Eve because of things like candles, again the decorations, improperly used electrical, and cooking,” says Antonick.
Electrical distribution or lighting equipment — including decorative lights — started nearly half of all Christmas tree fires between 2015 and 2019. But nearly 10% of Christmas tree fires were started by candles.
There are things you can do to keep yourself and your family safe.
Keep open flames and heat sources away from your tree, keep your tree well-watered, don't leave items cooking in the kitchen unattended, and check your smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.
If a fire does break out in your home and you can't get it quickly under control Antonick advises to “get everybody out of the house, go to a meeting spot, don't go back into the house, call 911 immediately.”
Antonick wishes everyone a safe holiday season and said to give the station a call if you have any questions.