To keep you safe from fires during the holiday season filled with decorative lights, candles, parties where people drink and smoke, and the onset of the heating season, the New Orleans Fire Department offers these tips.

Christmas trees

Christmas trees should be fresh, not dry. Lack of moisture in the tree increases its combustibility, so water regularly.

When buying a fresh flocked tree, ask the salesperson if the tree has been treated with an approved flame-retardant flocking material, or ask where you can buy such material and treat the tree yourself.

Place the tree at a safe distance from heat sources such as room heaters or fireplaces. Also, place the tree so that it will not obstruct the exit in case of a fire.

Use only lighting strings that have been tested and labeled by a nationally recognized product testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories.

Replace all tree lights that have frayed or broken wires, loose connections or cracked plugs.

Unplug the tree lights whenever you leave home or go to bed.

Do not overload extension cords or electrical outlets, and do not place electrical cords under rugs or locations where the cord can be damaged. Always use an extension cord that has a three-pronged plug (which is an extension cord with a ground wire) that is approved by Underwriters Laboratory for outdoor use.

Never hang electrical lights from a metallic tree; damaged insulation in the light string can electrically charge the tree, possibly causing shock or fire.

Do not use candles or any other open flame on or near tree.

Never burn Christmas trees in fireplaces because the flames can flare out of control and send sparks flying into the room.

After the Christmas holidays, remove the tree from your home as soon as possible, placing the tree a safe distance from the house for garbage collection.


Use only seasoned wood. Never use green wood, plastic artificial logs, paper or trash.

Always use a protective screen.

Clean interiors, hearths and chimneys yearly.

Have your chimney inspected by a professional at least once a year and have it cleaned if necessary.

Remove ashes in a metal container.

Because they may rekindle, never store ashes in your home.


Before you light candles put them in a non-tip candle holder.

Never burn candles near a Christmas tree or combustible decorations or displays.

Keep candles well away from curtains and other combustibles, and never put candles in windows or near exits.

Don’t leave candles burning unattended or within the reach of small children.

Extinguish candles before you leave a room, go to bed, or leave home.