HELENA — According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments in the US respond to an average of 160 fires started by Christmas trees each year. Other types of holiday decorations are responsible for hundreds of more fires annually. That makes 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 2015-2019. But nearly 10 percent of Christmas tree fires were started by candles.
There are things you can do to keep yourself and your family safe. That includes: keeping open flames and heat sources away from your tree, keeping your tree well-watered, don't leave items cooking in the kitchen unattended, and checking 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 says, “Get everybody out of the house, go to a meeting spot, don't go back into the house, call 911 immediately.”
Fire Marshall Antonick wishes everyone a safe holiday season and said to give the station a call if you have any questions.