Holiday Fire Safety Tips to Protect Your Family & Pets

Holiday Fire Safety Tips to Protect Your Family & Pets

For many, the holidays mean gathering with friends and family – furry and otherwise. While holiday traditions are full of joy, they can also be a fire hazard if you're not careful.

Dog and holiday lights

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For many, the holidays mean decorating your home, cooking delicious treats, and gathering with friends and family – furry and otherwise. While these holiday traditions are full of joy and celebration, they can also be a fire hazard if you're not careful.

In this post, we'll share 7 fire safety tips to protect your family and pets this holiday season. From the right way to hang your decorations to why watering real Christmas trees is important, here are our top tips for a safe and merry holiday season.

Dog and holiday lights

1) Don't Put Decorations Too Low on the Tree

Dangling ornaments and shiny tinsel on the tree can look like toys to your pets, especially cats that tend to love the movement. When you put ornaments low on your tree, you put them in reach of excited pets that may not be able to control themselves.

If your pet tries to play with your tree decorations, they risk knocking the tree over and creating a fire hazard. Instead, keep your decorations higher on the tree and out of reach of your pets.

If needed, try adding a gate or exercise pen around the base of your tree. Another option is to anchor your Christmas tree to the wall or ceiling to keep it more secure.

2) Check Christmas Light Plugs and Wires for Damage

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas lights are responsible for over 40% of all Christmas tree fires. Before you string the lights on the Christmas tree, always inspect them for signs of damage like frayed wires, missing bulbs, and other signs of excessive wear.

If the wires look old, worn, or damaged, don't plug them in and purchase new lights for your tree. Damaged wires can spark, potentially starting a fire on your tree or nearby decorations. If you're using multiple strings of lights, never connect more than three together.

Wires can also be a safety hazard for your pet. If chewed on, a wire can cause electrocution which can be deadly. Keep wires out of reach by using cable management techniques where possible to hide or cover the wires.

3) Keep Your Holiday Candles Out of Reach

Because pets are often excitable and unpredictable, letting them near an open flame is a recipe for disaster. Keep all of your holiday candles out of reach of your pets, and always make sure to snuff them out before you leave them unattended.

In many cases, opting for flameless candles can be a great way to minimize your fire risk while keeping the cozy ambience of holiday candles. If you're lighting a menorah or kinara, place them on a non-flammable surface like aluminum foil that can catch the melting candle wax without worry of a fire.

4) Use a Fire Screen Around Your Fireplace

Just like candles, fireplaces also have open flames that can be dangerous to your pets and to your home.

While a fire helps keep you warm in the winter and creates a cozy atmosphere for your holiday party, it's vital to always practice caution when you light your fireplace. Use a fire screen around the opening to contain the embers and keep your pets from getting curious.

Never leave your pet unattended with the fireplace lit, and always extinguish the fire before you go to sleep.

5) Don't Let Your Pets Near the Stove

During the holidays, a lot of time is spent in the kitchen cooking and baking. Without precautions, your stove can also be a major fire hazard, especially with pets around.

Never leave the stove on unattended with your pet in the room, especially if you have a gas range. The open flame can not only injure your pet, but it can also cause a fire if your pet knocks something over nearby.

Electric cooktops can also cause a fire if something is knocked over onto the hot surface, so monitor your pet at all times and practice caution. Always keep flammable objects away from the stove as well, such as towels, food wrappers, and grocery bags.

6) Keep Your Christmas Decorations Away from Heat Sources

Christmas trees, wrapping paper, and other decorations can quickly go up in flames if they're too close to a heat source, so always decorate with safety in mind.

Keep all decorations at least 3 feet from any heat source, including:

  • Fireplaces
  • Candles
  • Heating vents
  • Radiators
  • Space heaters

If you're using an artificial tree, look for one that's fire resistant. While this won't prevent the tree from catching on fire when exposed to a heat source, it can minimize the fire and give you more time to extinguish it if an accident does happen.

7) Keep Your Real Christmas Tree Hydrated

Watering your Christmas tree is one of the best ways that you can protect your home from fire. If not watered regularly, real Christmas trees can become dry and brittle, making them the perfect source of kindling for a potential fire.

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, a dry Christmas tree can burn faster than newspaper, and can quickly spread to other surrounding areas of your home. Water your tree every day with at least one gallon of fresh water or try a tree watering system.

8) Keep Pets Away from New Year's Fireworks

If you plan to ring in the new year with fireworks, always choose a safe location that's away from your home and trees. Keep pets and other spectators far away from where the fireworks will be lit to keep them out of the firing zone.

If you're using handheld fireworks like sparklers, keep them out of reach of pets. One stray spark from a firework can lead to massive fires, especially in areas experiencing droughts, so it's important to be overly cautious. 

Keep Your Pets and Family Safe This Holiday Season

The holidays are a magical time of year, but they're also a hectic time when accidents can easily happen amidst the chaos. Take extra care when decorating and celebrating this year to protect your pets and family from fire and other safety hazards that the holidays create.

Make sure to check back next week for our year-end post, The Best of the CocoTherapy Blog 2022. It's packed full of helpful tips, tricks, recipes, and techniques to help keep your furry friend healthy and happy. See you then!