FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, December 18, 2017


TRENTON –  The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ Division of Fire Safety joins local fire departments and local fire officials in issuing safety precautions in an effort to prevent fires that often result during the holiday season. 

Additionally, with the onset of cold weather, the use of both traditional and alternative home heating devices, and the possibility of long-term power failures resulting from severe storms, can increase the possibility fire as well as carbon monoxide poisoning. 

There are simple steps families can take to prevent fires during the holiday season.  


  • It is best to use battery-operated candles, which have all the essentials of a live candle, without the fire risk of an open flame.
  • A pillar candle, one with a thick base or ideally one contained in glass, is a better choice. They have a wider platform on a surface and are less susceptible to being knocked over. Placing one inside a glass globe offers even more protection.
  • For additional protections, keep any candle away from flammable surfaces by at least a foot, including draperies, curtains, and loose fabric of any kind.
  • Once lighted, candles are best left where they are. Moving one might cause it to fall as it is hot to the touch.
  • Do not leave any candle unattended. Keep them in one location during the event and make sure at least one family member is present.
  • When a candle is extinguished, use a metal candlesnuffer. Blowing out a candle may send a hot ember to a flammable surface. 


  • Take advantage of fire-resistant alternatives to live trees.
  • If using a live tree, keep the tree well-watered, away from any heat source, and disposed of at the first sign of dryness. 


  • Attractive and safe alternatives to traditional holiday indoor and outdoor lighting project dazzling displays from a single source rather than relying on heat-producing lights.
  •    Fireplaces draped with stockings and other décor are a fire hazard, but Yule Log alternatives are available via streaming services and on the web, and offer the added benefit of accompanying holiday music. 


  • Make certain your heater has an Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) sensor. ODS sensors are found in units made after 1984 and will turn off the heater if it senses high levels of carbon monoxide.
  • Look for an independent lab label such as UL, which set minimum safety standards for manufacture.
  • If using an electric heater, make certain the extension cord is #14 gauge or larger. Do not use a lightweight cord and run it under the rug.
  • Make sure the device has a protective grill in front of the heating element, which is the part that glows.
  • Turn the heater off when you leave the room.
  • Enforce the “3 Foot Rule” with young children. Keep them at least 3 feet away.
  • Keep bedding, curtains, and clothing 3 feet away from the heater, as well.
  • Plug directly into wall outlets. Never use with a household extension cord. Make sure the device has a “tip over” switch that turns the heater off if it’s knocked over.
  • The most effective defense in preventing a fire emergency continues to be a working smoke and CO alarm on every level of the home, coupled with a family escape plan. 

The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the State. The Division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, as well as for implementing community risk reduction and firefighter training programs.

Tammori Petty
or Lisa Ryan
(609) 292-6055