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New report: Fire for Christmas

Photos of decorations with candles placed near combustible materials are flourishing in social media, especially around Christmas time. This project studies the fire hazards related to such decorations and groups of tealights and brings advice for what people can do to avoid fire for Christmas.

Experiments were conducted to demonstrate the fire hazard of different types of Christmas decorations, as well as small-scale experiments with measurement of temperature development in groups of tealights. The experiments were documented with images and video, infrared (IR) camera, and temperature measurements. By showing examples of what can go wrong, and showing simple measures people can take, we hope to increase the awareness of how to avoid fire for Christmas.

The results from the study are summarized in the following four points to remember, and eight measures people can do at home.

Remember this to avoid fire for Christmas:
- Not everything you see in commercials and social media is safe.
- Many candles placed close together can be a fire hazard.
- Unforeseen things can happen, a cat can walk by and make the candle tip over, a child can pull the tablecloth, or there can be a draft from a window.
- Not all candle holders are stable.

What can you do to avoid fire for Christmas:
- Think about fire safety when decorating for Christmas, do not copy uncritically from others.
- Avoid lighting candles near combustible materials. This includes advent decorations and Christmas trees.
- Replace candles with LEDs.
- Replace combustible decorations with for example stone, glass, or ceramics.
- Do not leave burning candles unattended.
- Remember to test and change batteries in smoke detectors.
- Follow the safety instructions written on the candle packaging.
- Keep minimum 10 cm (or the producers recommended distance) between tealights.
- Choose stable candle holders.

This study is funded by the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB) and the Norwegian Building Authority (DiBK).

You may find videos of fire hazardous Christmas decorations at our YouTube channel (, or here as files for download:

Read the full report in Norwegian with English summary: