Understanding the Risks Associated with Pre-Lit Christmas Trees

Research by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) suggests that a pre-lit artificial tree can be as big of a fire hazard as a dry natural tree, but personal preference is still the most important element in picking a Christmas tree. After fresh studies confirmed that artificial trees can contribute significantly to the propagation of a minor fire once lighted, the product safety testing agency announced new flammability regulations for pre-lit artificial trees.

Trees over 30 inches in diameter and shorter than 12 feet in height will be safer according to the new regulations, which are the first of their kind to evaluate full-size pre-lit artificial trees. If a tiny fire, triggered by something like a candle being spilled near presents, a tree skirt, or wrapping paper, does occur nearby, the criteria will ultimately restrict the tree’s contribution to fire propagation.

Inspecting and Maintaining your Pre-Lit Christmas Tree


Pre-lit artificial Christmas trees that have been certified by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) won’t be available until next year, but you can help keep your family safe by spending only one minute a day following these tips:

  • Buy pre-lit Christmas trees only if the lights carry the UL Mark, which guarantees that they conform to UL’s rigorous safety standards. The UL Listing mark can be seen on the individual light strings of the tree, close to the plug.
  • You should only use certified light strings with a gold holographic UL marking on an artificial tree that is not pre-lit.
  • Keep in mind that lights with a green UL Mark on the tag or near the plug have only been tested for use indoors, whereas lights with a red UL Mark have been tested for both indoor and outdoor usage.
  • If you’ve been storing your lights, now is the time to make sure none of the lamp holders are cracked or damaged, and that none of the cables are frayed or exposed. If you find a damaged string of lights, replace it with a new one that is UL-listed.
  • When stringing together several light strands, be sure to refer to the user manual or the tag located on the end of the strand at the plug. It is important to be aware of the difference in electrical ratings between LED light strings and more conventional light strings that may incorporate larger screw-in (C9 and C7) bulbs.
  • Don’t go overboard with ornaments on the Christmas tree. Avoid using too many ornaments made of paper, plastic, or other combustible materials, or the tree could catch fire.
  • Take care when using electrical decorations, and always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended or use lit candles to decorate the tree. Before leaving the room or going to sleep, make sure all candles are out and the wick embers have died down.
  • Do not leave youngsters alone in a room with burning candles.
  • Candles should never be used in close proximity to decorations, window coverings, paper, or walls.
  • Always keep candles in a secure location out of the reach of children and pets.
  • In order to prevent fires, it is recommended to use heavy, flame-resistant candleholders that can hold the weight of the candle without toppling over.
  • Candles, matches, and lighters should never be left where children may get them, and neither should candles be left burning unattended, so be sure to blow them out before leaving the house or retiring for the night.
  • Never leave Christmas tree lights on when you go to bed or leave the house.