Dangerous holiday habits are common in many U.S. homes

The holiday months can carry an increased risk of house fires and burns, due to more time indoors, more cooking, open flames and decorations.

An independent survey commissioned by Shriners Hospitals for Children polled U.S. adults on their fire safety practices and found habits that could lead to serious injuries or even death.

Conducted as part of the Shriners Hospitals for Children annual Be Burn Aware campaign, survey results show:


  • 25 percent of people surveyed leave lit candles unattended in their homes
  • 27 percent leave lit candles within the reach of children
  • 47 percent do not keep something nearby to extinguish a fire when cooking, such as a lid or cookie sheet
  • 25 percent do not turn pot handles to the back of the stove and out of a child’s reach
  • 45 percent do not water live Christmas trees daily, even though 70 percent were aware that they should

“Some of these findings seem alarming, but each year our burn hospitals see the unfortunate results—children who have been injured in cooking related accidents or in fires associated with holiday decorations or candles,” said Kenneth Guidera, M.D., chief medical officer for Shriners Hospitals for Children. “These injuries can mean years of ongoing treatments and extensive rehabilitation for a child. That’s why we encourage families to learn about fire safety and prevention, before a tragedy occurs.”

Shriners Hospitals for Children is distributing education and awareness messages to help reduce fires and burns through the Be Burn Aware campaign. Public service announcements featuring actor Joe Minoso from the NBC show Chicago Fire urge families to take precautions like watering fresh cut Christmas trees daily. The hospital system also has activity books, tip cards and a five-minute online quiz at to help families rethink home safety practices during the holidays and avoid injuries.

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