Wrapped Christmas presents on the floor near a Christmas tree

Decorate Your Home Safely During Holidays

Follow these safety tips when decorating your home

Close to 900 home fires caused by holiday decorations occur each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The Raleigh Fire Department is sharing information with you to help you decorate your home safely during the winter holidays.

Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

  • Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant. 
  • Use the right kind of lights. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords don’t get damaged. Keep decorations away from windows and doors.
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many decorations or electrical devices. They can overheat and cause a fire.
  • Outdoor electrical lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs).


Candles may be pretty to look at, but they are a cause of home fires. More than one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles. A candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn. 

Follow these tips if decorating with candles:

  • Keep candles at least one foot away from anything that burns.
  • Think about using battery-operated flameless candles.
  • Keep children and pets away from lit candles.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high and out of children’s reach, in a locked cabinet.
  • Use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t tip over easily.
  • Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
  • Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.
  • Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.

Christmas Trees

As you deck the halls, be fire smart. A small fire that spreads to a Christmas tree can grow large very quickly. Here are some tips to stay safe:

  • Keep your Christmas tree away from heat – make sure your tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, such as an airduct, a fireplace, or a space heater.
  • Trim the stump – trim the tree's stump by at least two inches on freshly cut trees. Allow it to absorb water for 24 hours before bringing it inside.
  • Keep the tree watered – fill the water reservoir daily and check the condition of the trunk bark and branches for moisture. Shedding or dry needles could mean the tree is drying out, increasing overall fire risk. 

“If you decide to get a natural Christmas tree, make sure you water it every day to prevent it from drying out too fast,” says Lt. Lemuel Hubbard from the Raleigh Fire Department. “When your tree begins to lose a lot of needles when you pull on the branches or if the branches break when you bend them, it’s time to discard the tree. Having a dried-out Christmas tree in your home is a potential fire hazard.”

Before Heading Out or Going to Bed

Blow out lit candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed.

For more information, visit the Winter Holiday Fire Safety Tips page.

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