December 10, 2020 – Traveling for the holidays might not be on the menu due to COVID-19, but comfort food, festive decorations, and cozy nights in are sure to lift everyone’s spirits. Unfortunately, these activities can often lead to fire, with Christmas Day and Christmas Eve as two of the top days each year for home fires caused by cooking and candles.  

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) encourages everyone to keep safety in mind in order to lessen the chance that a fire will disrupt their holiday celebrations.  

“For a lot of people, December tops the list for the most heartwarming time of year, but it’s also a leading month for home fires in the U.S.,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for NFPA. “Carefully decorating your home and mindfully cooking your meals can help make your holidays safer.”  

Following are NFPA statistics highlighting the increased risk of fire during the holidays:


  • More than half (51 percent) of the home decoration fires in December are started by candles, compared to one-third (32 percent) in January to November.
  • From 2014-2018, an estimated average of 770 home structure fires per year began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees. These fires caused an average of two civilian deaths, 30 civilian injuries, and $11.1 million in direct property damage per year.
  • More than two of every five (44 percent) decoration fires occurred because the decoration was too close to a heat source, such as a candle or hot equipment.
  • One-fifth (21 percent) of the home decoration fires occurred in December, while 10 percent happened in January.

Christmas trees

  • Fires caused by Christmas trees are uncommon, but they are more likely to be serious when they do occur.
  • Between 2014-2018, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an annual average of two civilian deaths, 14 civilian injuries, and $10.3 million in direct property damage.
  • Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 45 percent of home Christmas tree fires.
  • In more than one-fifth (22 percent) of the Christmas tree fires, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.


  • Cooking is the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries and the second leading cause of home fire deaths.
  • An average of 470 home cooking fires were reported per day in 2018.
  • Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires.


  • Between 2014-2018 U.S. fire departments responded to an annual average of 7,610 home structure fires caused by candles. These fires caused an average 81 civilian fire deaths, 677 civilian fire injuries, and $278 million in direct property damage annually.
  • On average, 21 home candle fires were reported each day.
  • Three of every five (60 percent) candle fires started when something that could burn, such as furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains, or decorations, was too close to the candle.
  • Candle fires peak in December. January ranked second.
  • Nearly three times as many fires started by candles were reported on Christmas (an average of 58 Christmas fires) as the daily average.

About the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®) Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global self-funded nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information, visit All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at