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Stay Safe During the Holidays: Trees, Lights & Candles

Make sure your holiday is a safe and happy one – be careful with your Christmas tree, lights and candles!


  • Place your tree a good distance away from any heat sources like fireplaces, radiators or portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • If you purchase an artificial tree, make sure it's labeled “Fire Resistant.” Be careful with candles during the holidays!
  • Make sure your live tree is fresh. How to tell:
    • A fresh tree is green.
    • Fresh needles are hard to pull from branches.
    • When bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
    • The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin.
    • When tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
  • Cut about two inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Make sure the stand has wide spread feet for stability.
  • Keep the stand full of water - it can dry up quickly in the dry, heated air.


  • Use only lights labeled as tested for safety by an independent testing laboratory.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
  • Check all tree lights — even if you've just purchased them — before hanging them on your tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
  • If your artificial tree is metallic, don't put lights on it; they'll create a fire hazard and risk of electrocution.
  • Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
  • Keep bubbling lights away from children. These lights, with their bright colors and bubbling movement, can tempt curious children to break the candle-shaped glass, which can cut, and try to drink the liquid, which contains a dangerous chemical.


  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
  • Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • Keep candles away from other decorations and wrapping paper.

For more information, call Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.