Common Christmas fire causes and how to prevent them

Christmas living room

Christmas is the time of the year where we kick back and spend some precious time with the family. Getting everyone in one place hasn’t always been easy over the past couple of years but this Christmas is set to be a special one.

While we certainly don’t want to dampen the good mood of the festive period, it’s important to note that Christmas is a common time of year for house fires. Nobody wants their Christmas to end in tears, so we have come up with a few fire safety tips to get you through to the new year.

We are going to take a look at the most common Christmas fire causes and the best ways to prevent them from happening. That way, you can enjoy Christmas with peace of mind, knowing your family is safe and sound.


One of the most popular Christmas decorations that creates an instant cosy feeling is the candle. The welcoming glow of the flame slowly burning is like a warm hot chocolate for the eyes. However, flames are hot for a reason and they are one of the biggest ignitors of house fires in the UK.

Despite their frequency, candle fires are easily avoidable just by following a few simple rules. Firstly, make sure to position your candles away from curtains or anything flammable that may cross their path. It takes a matter of moments for a curtain accidentally draped over a candle to ignite. Secondly, keeping children and pets away from candles is a no-brainer but it ensures they don’t hurt themselves or accidentally knock the flame over or onto something flammable.

Another of the most common mistakes people make with candles is leaving them burning while they fall asleep or leave the room. Unattended flames are a huge fire risk and should be avoided at all costs. By keeping an eye on how the flame is burning you can spot if anything risky is afoot.

Check what you are putting your candle on and what is directly above it. Placing a candle on a surface that isn’t heat resistant can end in disaster. Even something as small as a tea light can get hot enough to melt plastic.

Equally, something like a shelf above your candle can be damaged and catch fire if it is too close. A clearance of a metre or more is ideal for candles so they avoid burning the surface of the object above.

Fairy lights

Today’s fairy lights are much safer than from years gone by but there are still some dangers associated with using them. Especially when they are combined with your Christmas tree.

Fairy lights are fire hazards when left in contact with something flammable, like paper decorations or a plastic Christmas tree. Additionally, leaving the lights on when you are sleeping or out of the house increases the likelihood that a fire will start.

Overloaded plug sockets are common at Christmas time because six sets of lights for our tree need to go somewhere. But, an overloaded socket is at risk of overheating and, you guessed it, catching fire!

This isn’t just a common occurrence in the home; many workplace fires are started for the same reason. The best way to avoid setting the fire sprinkler system off is to spread the load and distribute your fairy lights to various plugs and extension leads.

Christmas trees

Christmas trees are a danger unto themselves, and sometimes just trying to haul one from the car into the house is an injury risk! Fire risks are high with Christmas trees, particularly live ones that are reaching the end of their life cycle.

A Christmas tree fire can completely destroy a living room, and all the presents within it, in under a minute. That doesn’t give you much time to react so the best way to stop a Christmas tree fire is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Even equipping yourself with a hose might not be enough to stop a tree from creating mass destruction.

A tree that is brown and shedding needles is an increased fire risk, so avoid buying one showing these symptoms. Make sure that the leaves are green and aren’t easily pulled back from the branches when selecting your tree. The trunk will be sticky to the touch and if you bounce it on the ground the needles shouldn’t fall off.

When displaying your tree at home, ensure that you don’t store it near a heat source that can also dry it out. Dry Christmas trees are like tinder for a fire and can go up in flames in a matter of seconds. Keep water in the base of your tree at all times and ensure you have taken it down after two weeks.


Decorating your home at Christmas is an enjoyable experience the whole family can get involved in. However, many decorations are made of card or paper and therefore will burn in an instant.

So whether you have been roped into decorating the office, or you are decorating your home for Christmas, it’s important to remain fire safe. Do not attach decorations to lights or heaters and keep them away from any open flames.

Fire Safety At Christmas

Christmas is the time of year to be extra vigilant for fire safety. Don’t let the distraction of the festive period stop you from thinking about keeping your home and office safe. For further hints and advice on fire safety, our blog is an excellent resource filled with fresh content.

At Applications Engineering, we make and design high-quality fire sprinkler system products. Sprinkler systems are part of a network of valves, sensors and pipes to deliver targeted water dispersion to where it is needed. If you wish to learn more, get in touch with our experts today.