Holiday Safety Tips

It's important to know the fire safety basics of cooking, smoke detectors, and fireplace safety at any time of year – learn more about this on the Fire Safety & Prevention page.

But festive celebrations, flickering lights, and winter greens bring additional fire risks that can quickly turn this festive time of year into a devastating one. We have some safety tips to ensure a happy and safe holiday season.

Christmas Trees

Nearly one in five Christmas tree fires were started by decorative lights.

  • Before buying a tree, test for freshness by tapping the base of the tree on the ground or pulling lightly on a limb. If many needles drop or can easily be pulled off, the tree is too dry - choose a different one.
  • Keep your tree as fresh as possible by placing it outdoors with the stump in a bucket of water. When you're ready to bring it inside, cut two inches off the stem diagonally so it can better-absorb water.
  • Choose a suitable location for your tree, at least three feet away from heating sources and not blocking exits.
  • Mount the tree securely in a large, wide-based reservoir stand and add water daily to ensure the tree is well-watered. A dry tree is a dangerous tree - watch in this video.
  • Never use real candles to decorate a Christmas tree.
  • As Christmas trees dry out, they become more and more flammable. Thirty percent of Christmas tree fires were in January, and Christmas tree fires grow very fast. Safely dispose of your tree – check for local tree chipping or recycling programs.

Holiday LIghts & Decorations

Lots of lights and decor during the festive season can increase the risk of home decoration fires.

  • Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. Check the label, and also be sure they're CSA-approved.
  • Keep trees, wrapping paper, decorations, and other things that can catch fire away from heat sources - especially candles.
  • Replace any strings of lights with worn or broken cords/plugs or loose bulb connections.
  • Consider replacing older strings of lights with LED lights which could reduce your holiday lighting energy use by up to 90%.
  • Use clips - not nails! - to hang lights so the cords don't get damaged.
  • Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed.
  • An overloaded electrical outlet is a major fire hazard. Plug strings of lights directly into the wall and keep the number to a minimum.


More than one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles, and candle fires peak in December and January.

  • Always monitor open flames and candles, especially if children or pets are present.
  • Keep candles away from curtains, decorations, clothing, windows, and drafts.
  • Use sturdy candle holders that won't tip over easily and aren't flammable.
  • Cut candle wicks short to prevent high flames.
  • Blow out before you go out - extinguish all candles when leaving the room.
  • Flameless candles are a great alternative to real ones when decorating.
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