Holiday Safety

Festive celebrations, colorful lights, and winter greens are hallmarks of the holiday season, but winter months are the leading time of the year for home fires. The Ventura Fire Department encourages you to review the following holiday safety information to learn more about purchasing the right tree, selecting fire-resistant decorations, and building a fire safe space for celebrating with family.

Choose the right tree

  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the “Fire Resistant” label. Although this label doesn't mean the tree won't catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching it could be electrocuted
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. Fresh trees are green, the needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, the needles do not break. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground the tree should not lose many needles.
  • Make a fresh cut across the tree’s base and immediately place in water. Keep the tree’s water container full at all times, checking the water level daily. Dispose of tree when needles begin to fall off easily or if it turns brown
  • Choose a sturdy stand that holds at least one gallon of water.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it a minimum of three feet away from fireplaces, radiators, and other heat sources. Remember, heated rooms dry out live trees rapidly so give your tree plenty of water.

This live tree burn shows how quickly a dried-out tree burns, with flashover occurring in less than one minute, as compared to a well-watered tree, which burns at a much slower rate.

Decorate Safely

  • Decorate with flame-resistant or non-combustible materials.
  • Check each set of light strands, new and old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw out damaged sets and replace non-working light bulbs.
  • Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord and avoid areas where the cords can become a tripping hazard.
  • Use caution hanging lights with nails and staples, they can damage cords and expose wires.
  • Turn lights off before going to bed or leaving the home.
  • Keep decorations out of the reach of small children and pets.
  • Never burn pine trees or holiday wrapping paper in a fireplace. The sap from trees can create a fire hazard in your chimney. 
  • Keep the emergency escape route clear of trees, packages, and furniture.
  • Dried tried are an EXTREME fire hazard. After Christmas, remove your tree from the house as soon as possible. Cut it up and dispose of it in your yard waste trash can. E.J. Harrison & Sons will recycle your tree by creating mulch that benefits local farmlands, orchards, and nurseries. Can't cut up your tree? Schedule a free pick-up with E.J.Harrison & Sons by calling 805-647-1414.