CRFD Reminder: Dry Christmas Trees & Damaged Holiday Decorations DO NOT BELONG In Your Home

As the Christmas holiday draws closer, the Columbia-Richland Fire Department wants to once again remind area residents that fire safety has to be kept in mind when setting up holiday trees and decorations.

If you plan to get a live Christmas tree for your home WATER IT REGULARLY!

“Live Christmas trees drink a lot of water each and every day,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “The best thing to do is make it a habit to check the water level in your tree stand multiple times each day. If the level ever appears low, add more water to the stand. This will help keep your Christmas tree green and prevent it from becoming a MAJOR fire hazard in your home.”

Studies and videos produced by the National Fire Protection Association clearly document the dangers of Christmas tree fires.

The NFPA has reported that from 2016 through 2020 fire departments across the U.S. responded to an average of 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year.

An additional 790 home fires each year began with decorations other than Christmas trees.


Preventing Tree Fires

Keeping your Christmas tree healthy and more flame-resistant begins with finding the greenest tree!

  • Choose a tree with fresh green needles that do not fall off when touched!

Once you select your tree and bring it inside your home

  • Cut 2 inches from the base of the trunk before placing the tree in a stand
  • Make sure the tree is at least 3 feet away from any heat source (i.e. heating vents, candles, radiators, fireplaces, etc.).
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree at least twice daily.

When you decorate the tree

  • Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights that are worn out or broken! Follow manufacturer’s guidelines on the maximum number of light strands to connect.

  • NEVER use lit candles to decorate the tree!!
  • Always turn off the tree lights before you go to bed or leave your home.


Quickly dispose of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Do not leave it inside or against the home!

Source: NFPA


Other Holiday Safety Tips

  • Be careful with holiday decorations. Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn. For added safety use battery-powered candles instead.
  • Blow out lit candles and turn off holiday lights when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • 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 number of light strands to connect.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • DO NOT link multiple extension cords or overload power outlets to power holiday lights
  • Keep decorations away from windows and doors.


When entertaining guests

  • Test your smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan.
  • Keep children and pets away from lit candles.


Source: U.S. Fire Administration


  • Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop.
  • Ask smokers to smoke outside. Remind smokers to keep their smoking materials with them so young children do not touch them.

  • Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers. Wet cigarette butts with water before discarding.