Can My Christmas Lights Start a Fire?

With the upcoming holiday season, you may be taking your string lights out to hang on your trees or outdoor spaces. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in almost half of home Christmas tree fires.” 

Further, the NFPA stated that approximately one in five Christmas tree fires were started by decorative lights. In the US, fire departments responded to an estimated average of 790 home structure fires per year that began with decorations from 2015-2019. These fires resulted in death, injury, and extensive property damage. 

While no one wants to think of the liabilities that can come with holiday decorations, it is important to be informed and to use your Christmas lights safely. Though uncommon, fires can potentially start from these lights, so it is important to take all precautions to prevent this from happening. 

christmas fire accident

Does Insurance Cover Holiday Fires?

It is rare that homeowners do not have insurance on their homes unless they have failed to renew their policies after they have lapsed. Homeowners insurance is important as it can cover the costs of injuries suffered by people in your home, and also protects your home in the event of damage. Typically, homeowners policies will cover the following liabilities:

  • Dwelling and structural damage: This covers the cost to repair or rebuild your home after a fire, including the structure itself in addition to other essential functions of the home like plumbing and electrical wiring. Structures referred to as “detached structures” like sheds or fences are usually also included in the coverage. 
  • Loss of personal property: In the event of a fire, damage to personal property like gifts, clothing, or appliances can result. Insurance can cover these items under one of two methods: actual cash value or replacement cost. If your policy opts for the actual cash value method, your insurance provided will reimburse you for the depreciated value of the damaged items. Under the replacement cost method, your provider will reimburse you for the cost of buying new items to replace those that have been damaged. 
  • Liability lawsuits: If a fire at your home results in the injury of one of your guests (a potential premises liability claim) or damage to their personal property, insurance will pay for whatever costs are incurred as a result. The limits and deductibles of your policy will determine to what extent this coverage goes.
  • Loss of use: A home can become uninhabitable after a fire and need extensive repairs in the meantime. This provision in an insurance policy grants policyholders pay for temporary housing and living expenses while their home is undergoing repairs.

These are just a few of the scenarios that homeowners’ insurance can cover; check the terms of your policy to be sure you are covered.

What Can I Do To Prevent Fires?

There are a number of ways you can protect your home and people around you from the dangers associated with Christmas lights:

  • Replace old or damaged lights: check your lights for shattered bulbs, frayed cords, or sockets without lights. These replacement costs are extremely cheap – and much more cheap than damage resulting from a fire. 
  • Switch to LED lights: LED lights are cool to the touch, unlike traditional Christmas lights which can be subject to quickly heating up. Also, LEDs are an easy way to lower your electric bill in addition to increasing your safety measures. 
  • Test all of your fire detectors: making sure both your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working before the holidays
  • Check outlets: Do not overload your outlets and be sure to use the correct outdoor electrical cords and lighting for decorating your home’s exterior. 
  • Have a fire extinguisher: Check the date on your fire extinguisher to make sure that it is still in working order. Reading the instructions to refresh your memory is also a good idea. 

Taking these actions is relatively quick and easy, and it could be the difference between a happy holiday season and an unfortunate one.

Need Help With a Property Damage Claim? An Attorney Can Assist

If you’ve experienced harm due to a Christmas tree fire, a lawyer can help you explore your options for compensation. You may be able to turn to your insurance policy for assistance – and if the fire was caused due to someone else’s negligence, you might be able to receive additional compensation as well. Contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

Harrisburg Law Office
945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 231-1640

York Law Office
2550 Kingston Road, Suite 210A York, PA 17401
(717) 995-8998

Wyomissing Law Office
833 N. Park Road, Suite 103, Room A Wyomissing, PA 19610
(717) 388-2325

Chambersburg Law Office
79 St. Paul Drive, Suite 1 Chambersburg, PA 17201
(717) 388-2378

Carlisle Law Office
354 Alexander Springs Road Carlisle, PA 17015
(717) 995-8732

Carbondale Law Office
30 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 101 Carbondale, PA 18407
(717) 995-8810

Lancaster Law Office
2173 Embassy Drive, Ste 123, Lancaster Pa 17603
(717) 616-2954

Lebanon Law Office
937 Willow Street, Suite D Lebanon, PA 17042-1140
(717) 995-8963