NFPA says 36 percent of the fires in homes that start with a Christmas tree occur during the 10-day period starting on Christmas Eve.

Peak Season for Holiday Fires Arrives

NFPA has posted an online toolkit for firefighters to use to inform communities about holiday fire dangers.

If 2009 is typical, 36 percent of the fires in homes that start with a Christmas tree's ignition will occur during the 10-day period beginning today and ending Jan. 2, 2010, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Christmas Day has more of these fires than any other day in that period, on average. U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 250 "home Christmas tree structure fires," as NFPA's October 2009 report calls them, each year in 2003-2007, and those fires caused an annual average of 14 civilian deaths, 26 civilian injuries, and $13.8 million in property damage.

Causes include electrical problems (45 percent of the fires), a heat source too close to the tree (26 percent), tree lights (23 percent), and candles (14 percent).

The same report notes about 5,800 people are treated in emergency rooms per year for falls related to holiday decorations, and holiday or decorative lights are involved in an average of 170 home structure fires annually that cause seven civilian deaths, 17 civilian injuries, and $7.9 million in property damage.

NFPA has posted an online toolkit for firefighters to use to inform communities about holiday fire dangers. The association's winter holiday safety tip sheet is available here. Underwriters Laboratories' holiday safety tips, including a video about decorating safely, are available here.

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