Do Christmas Lights Cause House Fires

The holiday season is upon us and one of the most festive ways to decorate your home is with Christmas lights.

From colorful string lights to twinkling icicles, these decorations can bring joy and cheer to any neighborhood.

However, with the joy of holiday decorating comes the risk of potential hazards, particularly when it comes to fire safety.

In this blog post, we will explore some important factors to keep in mind when it comes to Christmas lights and house fires.

What Are Christmas Lights

Christmas lights are decorative lights that are traditionally used to adorn homes, Christmas trees, and other festive displays during the Christmas holiday season.

They are typically small electric lights that come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, and are arranged in strings or clusters.

Christmas lights are often used to create a festive atmosphere and add a warm, glowing ambiance to holiday decorations.

They can be hung along the eaves of houses, wrapped around trees or shrubs, or used to outline windows, doors, and other architectural features.

They are also commonly used in holiday displays, such as Christmas villages, nativity scenes, and outdoor decorations.

The tradition of using Christmas lights dates back to the 17th century when candles were used to decorate Christmas trees.

Over time, candles were replaced by safer and more convenient electric lights, which have become the standard for modern Christmas lighting.

Today, Christmas lights are available in a wide variety of styles, including traditional incandescent bulbs, LED lights, and specialty lights with different shapes, colors, and effects.

Do Christmas Lights Cause House Fires

The answer is yes, but it’s important to understand why. Christmas lights can be a fire hazard if they are damaged, overloaded, or improperly installed.

When these lights are left on for extended periods of time, they can overheat and ignite nearby combustible materials, such as curtains, furniture, or Christmas trees.

It’s important to inspect your Christmas lights before using them each year. Look for frayed wires, broken bulbs, and damaged sockets.

If you find any issues, replace the lights instead of trying to repair them. It’s also important to use lights that are certified by a safety testing laboratory, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories).

Do Christmas Lights Cause House Fires

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing Christmas lights, and use the appropriate clips and fasteners.

Don’t overload electrical outlets; use surge protectors to prevent power surges. Finally, never leave Christmas lights on when you’re not at home or while you’re sleeping.

How to Prevent Christmas Lights Fires

Preventing Christmas light fires is essential to ensure the safety of your home and loved ones during the holiday season.

Here are some tips to help you prevent Christmas lights fires:

Use lights that are certified and approved: Look for lights that are certified by reputable organizations, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories), CSA (Canadian Standards Association), or other recognized safety organizations.

Avoid using cheap or counterfeit lights that may not meet safety standards.

Inspect lights for damage: Before using Christmas lights, inspect them for any signs of damage, such as frayed wires, broken bulbs, or cracked sockets.

Discard any lights that are damaged and replace them with new ones.

Use outdoor lights for outdoor displays: If you are using lights for outdoor decorations, make sure to use lights specifically designed for outdoor use.

Outdoor lights are made with weather-resistant materials and are designed to withstand exposure to the elements.

Follow manufacturer’s instructions: Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing and using Christmas lights.

Pay attention to the recommended number of lights that can be connected in a single string, as exceeding this limit can create a fire hazard.

Avoid overloading electrical circuits: Do not connect too many lights to a single outlet or extension cord.

Overloading can cause overheating and increase the risk of a fire. Use only extension cords and outlets that are rated for the intended load.

Turn off lights when unattended: Never leave Christmas lights unattended, and always remember to turn them off when you are not at home or when you go to bed.

Leaving lights on for extended periods can increase the risk of fire.

Use LED lights: LED (light-emitting diode) lights are more energy-efficient and generate less heat compared to traditional incandescent lights.

LED lights are less likely to cause a fire due to their low heat output, making them a safer option for Christmas decorations.

Avoid placing lights near flammable materials: Keep Christmas lights away from flammable materials, such as curtains, carpets, or other decorations that can easily catch fire.

Make sure that lights are securely fastened and do not come into contact with any flammable objects.

Use proper storage: After the holiday season, properly store Christmas lights in a cool, dry place to prevent damage and reduce the fire risk.

Avoid storing lights in damp or humid areas, as moisture can damage the wires and increase the risk of a short circuit.

Can Christmas Lights Catch On Fire

While Christmas lights have become an integral part of holiday decorations,  they can cause fires if not used and maintained properly. The risk of Christmas lights catching fire is primarily associated with electrical malfunctions and overheating. Here are some precautions to minimize the risk:

Purchase quality lights: Choose lights tested and certified by reputable organizations to meet safety standards. Look for labels such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or CSA (Canadian Standards Association).

Inspect the lights: Before use, carefully inspect the lights for any signs of damage such as frayed wires, broken sockets, or loose connections. Do not use lights with damaged parts.

Avoid overloading electrical circuits: Do not connect too many light strands together or overload electrical outlets. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the maximum number of strands that can be connected.

Use outdoor lights for outdoor purposes: Ensure that lights intended for outdoor use are used outside and indoor lights are used indoors. Outdoor lights are designed to be more weather-resistant.

Turn off the lights when unattended: Avoid leaving Christmas lights on when you are away from home or sleeping. Use timers or smart plugs to automate the turning on and off of the lights.

Percentage Of House Fires Caused By Christmas Lights

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2013 and 2017, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 160 home fires caused by Christmas trees and decorations.

These fires resulted in an average of 8 deaths, 12 injuries, and $10 million in direct property damage each year.

One of the most common causes of these fires is Christmas lights. In fact, the NFPA reports that 44% of Christmas tree fires were caused by electrical distribution or lighting equipment.

Faulty wiring, overloaded outlets, and other electrical malfunctions can cause these fires.

It’s important to note that not all Christmas lights are created equal.

When shopping for lights, look for ones tested and certified by a recognized safety organization, such as the Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

These lights will undergo rigorous testing to ensure their safety and reliability.

Another important factor to consider is how you are using the lights. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and use.

This includes using the proper extension cords, not overloading outlets, and avoiding placing lights near flammable materials such as curtains or bedding.

Cause Of Christmas Lights Fires

Cause Of Christmas Lights Fires

While Christmas lights can bring warmth and cheer to the holiday season, they can also pose a fire hazard if not used properly.

Some common causes of Christmas lights fires include:

Electrical overload: Overloading electrical circuits by connecting too many lights to a single outlet or extension cord can cause overheating and increase the risk of a fire.

Exceeding the recommended number of lights that can be connected in a single string, as indicated by the manufacturer’s instructions, can also cause electrical overload and create a fire hazard.

Damaged lights: Using Christmas lights that are damaged, such as those with frayed wires, broken bulbs, or cracked sockets, can pose a significant fire risk.

Damaged lights can cause sparks or short circuits, igniting nearby flammable materials and leading to a fire.

Improper use of extension cords: Using extensions that are not rated for the intended load or improperly using them, such as using them in wet conditions, can pose a fire hazard.

Overloading extension cords, plugging too many cords together, or using damaged cords can cause overheating and create fire risk.

Placing lights near flammable materials: Placing Christmas lights too close to flammable materials, such as curtains, carpets, furniture, or decorations, can pose a fire hazard.

The light’s heat can ignite these materials, leading to a fire.

Leaving lights unattended: Leaving Christmas lights unattended for long periods of time, such as overnight or when away from home, can increase the risk of a fire.

Lights that are left on for extended periods of time can overheat and potentially ignite nearby flammable materials.

Using counterfeit or uncertified lights: Using cheap or counterfeit Christmas lights that do not meet safety standards or are not certified by reputable organizations, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or CSA (Canadian Standards Association), can pose a fire hazard.

These lights may not have undergone proper testing and may lack safety features, increasing the fire risk.

Poor storage: Improperly storing Christmas lights, such as storing them in damp or humid areas, can cause damage to the wires and increase the risk of a short circuit or fire.

Is It Safe To Leave Christmas Lights On All Night?

Firstly, make sure that your Christmas lights are properly installed and maintained. Faulty wiring or damaged bulbs can be a fire hazard and pose a risk to your home and family.

Always follow manufacturer instructions and inspect your lights before use.

Secondly, consider using LED lights. LED lights consume less energy, produce less heat, and are less likely to cause a fire than traditional incandescent lights.

Additionally, they have a longer lifespan and are more durable, making them a more cost-effective option in the long run.

Thirdly, use a timer. Leaving Christmas lights on all night can increase your electricity bill and cause unnecessary wear and tear on your lights.

Using a timer will allow you to set the times you want the lights to be on and off, ensuring that they are only on when needed.

Lastly, be mindful of where you place your Christmas lights. Keep them away from flammable objects such as curtains, furniture, and Christmas trees.

Additionally, ensure they are not in contact with water or moisture, which can cause a short circuit.

What To Do If Your Christmas Lights Catches Fire

If your Christmas lights catch fire, it’s important to act quickly and follow these steps:

Stay calm and act swiftly: Your immediate response should be to stay calm and take prompt action. Do not panic or attempt to put out the fire with water, as water conducts electricity and can cause electrocution.

Switch off the lights and unplug them: If it is safe to do so, switch off the lights and unplug them from the power source. This can help prevent the fire from spreading further.

Use a fire extinguisher: If you have a fire extinguisher nearby and it is safe to use, aim it at the base of the fire and discharge the extinguisher. Follow the instructions on the fire extinguisher for proper usage.

Evacuate the area: If the fire is spreading rapidly or you are unable to extinguish it safely, evacuate the area immediately.

Close all doors behind you to contain the fire, and call emergency services (such as 911) to report the fire.

Do not use water: Never use water to extinguish an electrical fire, as water conducts electricity and can cause electrocution. Using a fire extinguisher or other appropriate fire suppression methods for electrical fires is important.

Do not touch burning lights or wires: Avoid touching burning lights or wires with your bare hands, as they can be hot and cause burns.

Use a fire-resistant glove or a non-conductive object, such as a wooden broom, to handle burning lights or wires, if necessary.

Do not re-use damaged lights: Do not attempt to re-use Christmas lights that have caught fire or are damaged.

Dispose of them properly and replace them with new, undamaged lights.

Seek professional help: After the fire has been extinguished and the area is safe, it’s important to have a qualified electrician inspect your electrical system to identify and fix any potential issues that may have caused the fire.


Christmas light fires can be prevented by following safety guidelines, such as avoiding electrical overload, inspecting lights for damage, using certified lights, and proper storage.

If a Christmas lights fire does occur, it’s important to stay calm, switch off and unplug the lights, use a fire extinguisher (not water), evacuate, and seek professional help.

Prioritizing safety and taking preventive measures can ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday season with beautiful and safely lit Christmas lights.