Can Christmas Lights Start a Fire?

Christmas lights set the tone for a festive season, and they turn entire neighborhoods into magical wonderlands every December. Unfortunately, under some circumstances, they can start fires with tragic consequences.

The Prevalence of Christmas Light Fires

According to the National Fire Protection Association, holiday decorations cause over 860 home fires a year. Christmas trees cause an additional 210 fires annually. Although not all of these fires were caused by Christmas decorations – it is not difficult to imagine how many fires occurred on July 4, for example – many of them were. You can’t be too careful when the lives of your family are at stake.

Safety Tips To Prevent Fires Over the Holidays

Observe the following safety tips to keep your home as safe as possible over the holidays.

Electrical Cords

Exposed wires and overloaded circuits cause many fires every year.

  • Make sure the amperage needs of your lights match the amperage rating of your extension cords. If they don’t match, you could overload an electrical outlet.
  • Plug your outdoor electrical lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). You can purchase portable outdoor GFCIs at just about any hardware store, and they are easy to install.
  • Inspect all of your lights, extension cords, and other equipment for damage before you use them. Don’t use lights with exposed wires or with damaged light bulbs. An exposed wire, for example, could set leaves alight, which might set your house on fire.
  • To avoid short circuits, keep all extension cords and light strings away from moisture, including snow.
  • Remember that metal ladders can cause fires and electrocution accidents by conducting electricity. Wooden or fiberglass ladders are safer.
  • Take extra care while decorating near power lines. Don’t allow you or your equipment within 10 feet of them.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets with too many electrical devices. Overloaded electrical devices can overheat and cause fires.
  • Don’t let your cords get pinched in door hinges or windows. This might rub off the insulation, leading to a fire.
  • Turn off all of your lights before you leave home or go to sleep (very few people follow this advice).
  • Obtain and maintain smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler systems.
  • If your building is a consumer business, make sure the interior is equipped with signs mapping the fire exits. Keep the exits in good condition.
  • Keep your home free of flammable materials.

Beyond the foregoing rules, use your common sense to avoid unintended consequences.


Observe the following precautions with candles, along with any other precautions you find appropriate.

  • Never leave an open flame – keep burning candles within your field of vision at all times.
  • Keep burning candles away from flammable materials such as curtains.
  • Place your candles where they are not likely to be knocked over (especially by small children or dogs).
  • Never place lighted candles on a Christmas tree or near plants.
  • Put out all of your candles before you sleep or leave the room.
  • If you light candles, keep the room well-ventilated to prevent the fumes from catching fire. 

Candles are more likely to start fires than electrical Christmas lights because they are used primarily indoors.

Premises Liability and Fire Accidents

All Pennsylvania owners of real property have a legal responsibility to maintain their premises in a safe condition for visitors. If a visitor suffers an injury due to the owner’s negligence, the owner can be liable for damages in a premises liability claim. 

A Pennsylvania property owner must repair any dangerous conditions and warn of any hidden hazards. 

The injury victim doesn’t have to be on the owner’s property for the property owner to bear liability. For example, a house fire can damage adjoining structures and injure neighbors.

Product Liability for Defective Christmas Lights

If you suffered a fire accident and you don’t understand why it happened, defective Christmas lights might be the culprit. If so, you might have a valid product liability claim. With a product liability claim based on strict liability, you can sue anyone in the product’s chain of distribution with no need to prove fault.

Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer for Help If Your Christmas Lights Started a Fire 

If you have been injured in a fire caused by someone else’s carelessness, you should file a claim as soon as possible. Investigating your claim and gathering admissible evidence are mere preparations for negotiating your claim and, if necessary, filing a lawsuit. 

An attorney can help you with all of these steps, including determining whether you qualify for a premises liability or product liability claim. 

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call Zavodnick & Lasky Personal Injury Lawyers at (215) 875-7030 or contact us online.
You can also visit our law firm at 123 S Broad St #1220, Philadelphia, PA 19109.