Twelve Fire Horrors of the Holidays

State Farm Lists the Top 10 States for Christmas Day Fire Claims

Dec 15, 2010, 08:00 ET from State Farm Insurance

BLOOMINGTON, Ill., Dec. 15, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- The holiday season is the time of year many people's thoughts turn to the 12 days of Christmas, with leaping lords, milking maids, and partridges in pear trees. This is also the time when home fires peak. Approximately one-third of home fires and home fire deaths occur during December, January and February.

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From 2005 to 2009, State Farm Insurance experienced the highest number of total fire and smoke claims (excluding lightning) in December with 19,323 claims, followed by January with 18,495 claims.    

State Farm reminds consumers that the potential for a home fire is highest during the winter months. To help keep your family and loved ones safer during the holiday and winter season, learn how to avoid the 12 fire horrors of the holidays.

Cooking Calamities

Unattended cooking remains one of the top causes of home fires. While Thanksgiving Day is the top day for grease- and cooking-related fires, December isn't far behind. In 2009, on Christmas Day, State Farm reported 36 cooking fire and smoke-related claims – the highest number of claims for that day over a five-year period and nearly double 2009's annual daily average of 19 claims.

Space heaters

Home heating equipment is second to cooking fires for causing home structure fires. More than half of home heating fires occur during December, January and February. Avoid setting up a space heater too close to curtains, furniture, or even holiday decorations. Remember to keep at least three feet of clear space around it and set it up on the floor unless it is designed for other use.  

Children Playing with Fire

The number of fires and deaths caused by children playing with fire goes up significantly during the holidays. Never leave children unsupervised with ignition materials such as matches or lighters.  

Burn Wood in the Fireplace

Do not burn trash, cardboard boxes or Christmas trees in the fireplace. These items burn unevenly and may cause a dangerous flash fire.

Caution with Candles

Christmas Day is the peak day of the year for candle fires. Make sure candles are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.

Holiday Lights

Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots or broken sockets before putting them up. Remember to turn off holiday lights before leaving the home or going to bed.

Counterfeit Electronics

Christmas lights are the perfect product for counterfeiting – high volume and low manufacturing cost. Look for CSA or UL certification marks that indicate the product was tested and met the product safety standards.

Electrical Outlets

Don't overload your electrical outlets with too many lights or decorations.

Electrical Cords

To reduce the chance of overheating, electric cords should never be bundled together or run under rugs or carpet.

Christmas Trees

Take fire safety precautions when keeping a live tree in the house. Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches. Regularly give the tree plenty of water.

Dirty Chimney

Most chimney fires are caused by the buildup of creosote, a highly combustible by-product of burning wood. To protect your chimney from creosote buildup, have it inspected and cleaned annually.

Dirty Fireplace

When cleaning your fireplace, put embers in a metal container and set them outside to cool for 24 hours before disposal.

State rankings based on the number of home-fire and smoke-related claims on Christmas Day from 2005 to 2009:


























New York





Editor's Note

Christmas Tree Fire Video - Broadcast quality video of a Christmas tree bursting into flames, curtains engulfed in fire and smoking electrical cords are available for media download at All video was shot at the State Farm Building Technology Research Lab with assistance provided by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).

SOURCE State Farm Insurance