More house fires happen during the holidays than at any other time of year. The possible causes include strings of lights, candles, fireplaces, trees, and cooking, to name a few. Take precautions for fire safety during the holidays to reduce the chances of a devastating fire.

General Tips for Fire Safety During the Holidays

Electrical Fire Safety During the Holidays

Begin by looking at potential electrical hazards. Prevent overload by not stringing more than 3 sets of lights together. Where possible, use Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets with a test button. Try to limit the use of extension cords, and make sure any that you do use are in good condition.

Space Heaters

Throughout the winter, many families rely on space heaters. Remember to keep them far away from flammable items, especially the holiday tree and hanging stockings. Don’t use extension cords to power them and always turn space heaters off before you leave the room.


Before using your fireplace, have your chimney cleaned and inspected by a licensed professional. Maintain your fire safety during the holidays by burning only seasoned hardwoods and keeping your fires small. Make sure to fully extinguish the fire before leaving home or falling asleep.

Fireplace Maintenance

To prevent your fire from escaping, use a fire screen or close the glass doors to contain embers and sparks. Keep flammable material at least three feet away, including extra logs and kindling. Remember to remove stockings from the mantel before starting a fire in the fireplace.


The best candles for fire safety during the holidays are flameless battery-powered ones. If you choose to use real candles, blow them out before leaving the room, even if it’s just for a moment, and place them in sturdy, fireproof holders away from children and pets.

Kitchen Fire Safety During the Holidays

Teach proper kitchen safety to all members of the house. Keep children away from ovens and stoves. Remind everyone to avoid placing flammable items near heat sources, even if they are not currently on.

Clean spills as you go, especially flammable grease. Grease flashes quickly when exposed to open flame or heat and will quickly spread to other items. Also, remember that grease fires cannot be doused with water. Keep a fire extinguisher handy.

Turkey Frying

Turkey frying should always be done carefully, with special attention to fire safety during the holidays. Choose an outdoor area with no flammable materials within three feet. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for your fryer, and make sure your turkey is fully thawed before putting it in the hot grease.

Holiday Trees

According to the National Fire Research Laboratory, a well-hydrated Christmas tree is less likely to catch on fire. Choose a healthy tree, cut off the bottom inch, and immediately water it. Water your tree daily and discard the tree if it has dried out as dry trees are extremely flammable.

Holiday Lights

Inspect string lights by looking for cord damage, fraying, kinks, or worn strands. When possible, use a power strip instead of plugging multiple strands into one another. Turn off all lights before leaving home or going to bed for the night.

Prevention is Crucial for Fire Safety During the Holidays

Fire safety during the holidays begins with prevention. Make sure you have smoke detectors installed. Check their batteries. Also, make sure none of your decorations block exits. In case of a fire, you need easy access to all exits.

By following the above tips, you can keep your family and home safe over the holidays.

Carolina Homechek provides home inspection services to Mecklenburg County and the surrounding area. Contact us to schedule an appointment.