Be Careful During The Holidays


(By Fire Chief Matt Love) Hello to our community. Festive celebrations, flickering lights, and winter greens are hallmarks of the holiday season, but they also present fire risks that can quickly turn this festive time of year into a devastating one.  Here are a few statistics found by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regarding winter holiday fires:

  • U.S. fire departments respond to hundreds of home fires each year involving Christmas trees. Unfortunately, these fires cause several deaths and injuries, as well as millions of dollars in direct property damage.
  • On average, one of every 52 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 135 total reported home fires.
  • Electrical distribution or lighting equipment is involved in 44% of home Christmas tree fires.
  • In 25% of the Christmas tree fires, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.
  • Unfortunately, 21% of Christmas tree fires are intentional. 

Here is a list of Safety Tips provided by the NFPA to ensure you and your family stay safe during this holiday season.

Holiday Decorating

  • Make sure decorations are flame resistant or flame retardant
  • Keep candles away from decorations and other things that can burn
  • Make sure that lights are rated for either indoor or outdoor use
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections, following instructions for how many light strands can be connected together
  • Use clips instead of nails to hang lights
  • Keep decorations away from windows and doors
  • All lights should have a silver underwriter’s laboratory (UL) tag on the end that certifies the safety

Holiday Entertaining

  • Test your smoke alarms and make sure your guests know how to exit your home
  • Keep children and pets away from candles
  • Stay in the kitchen while cooking

Christmas Tree Safety

  • Before placing your tree in the stand, cut 2″ from the base of the trunk
  • Make sure the tree is at least 10 feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights
  • Add water to the tree stand daily

Following these simple Holiday tips will help to keep you and your family safe for a very enjoyable Holiday celebration!

I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Holiday!

Matt Love has been the Fort Myers Beach Fire Chief since 2016. In 2019 he was selected by the Fire Chiefs’ Association of Lee County Florida as Fire Chief of the Year. He can be reached at the fire department at 239- 590-4200