(NEXSTAR)- The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, the lights are glowing on the rooftops, and the halls are decked with holly- While these flickering lights and festive decorations are the hallmarks of the holiday season, they also present fire risks that can quickly turn this joyous time of year into a devastating one, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Below are a few things every homeowner needs to know ahead of the Christmas season:

Christmas trees

NFPA says nearly one in five Christmas tree fires are started by decorative lights. Homeowners are encouraged to check lights thoroughly before use, checking for frayed cords and broken lights. Additionally, tree lights should always be unplugged at night or when leaving the home. Live trees should be watered well, as dry trees are more likely to catch fire. 

Holiday decoration

Between 2015 and 2019, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 790 home fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees. These fires caused deaths, injuries, and about $13 million in property damage. NFPA says most decoration fires happened when the decoration was left too close to a heat source. 


During the same time frame as above, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 7,400 home fires that were started by candles. These fires caused an average of 90 deaths and about 670 injuries. Additionally, these fires caused about $291 million in property damage, according to NFPA. 

NFPA says most home fires caused by candles happen in December and January. Three of every five fires started by candles happened when flammable materials, like furniture, mattresses, bedding, curtains, or decorations were left too close to the flame. 

Celebrate safely by keeping lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn. Additionally, always blow out lit candles when you leave the room or go to bed.

Holiday cooking

While Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day follow right behind. NFPA says about one in five home cooking fires involve decorations. Never leave decorations, kitchen towels, or oven mitts too close to the oven or stove. Additionally, be sure to turn off the oven, stove, or grill before leaving your kitchen. 

Fireplaces and heaters

As the weather gets colder, families across Texas start throwing logs on the fire to keep warm. NFPA says homeowners should have their furnaces, wood stoves, fireplaces, and chimneys inspected each year before lighting the first fire. Additionally, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be tested monthly. 

For those homes without a fireplace, space heathers are popular each winter. If you or anyone in your home uses a space heater, make sure you turn your heater off when you leave the home. Keep your heater on the floor, at least three feet away from flammable fabrics and feathery fillings, such as bedding and rugs.