Be Candle Careful This Christmas: December Sees Spike In House Fires Caused By Candles

·         Over 1,000 home insurance claims for house fires are caused by candles each year

·         The time between Christmas and New Year accounts for 44 per cent of all candle related fire claims in December

·         Yet, 10.7 million people decorate with potentially fire risky decorations at Christmas

New research1 from Direct Line Home Insurance reveals Brits should take care when lighting candles this Christmas as more than 1,000 home insurance claims are made every year as a result of a fire caused by a candle.  In fact, the time after Christmas (25th – 30th December) accounts for nearly half (44 per cent) of all candle-related fire claims during December.

Claims data from the insurer found that one in five (20 per cent) candle fires throughout the year occur in December alone. Candle fires are more than twice as likely to take place in December than in the average month, accounting for one in eight (12 per cent) fire claims over the festive period.

A house fire can cause serious amounts of damage to a property in a very short space of time. Since the start of 2015, it is estimated that more than £1.7 billion in fire claims have been made to insurers across the UK. With the cost of both houses and furnishings continually rising, the cost of damage is continually increasing, this is by an average of 11 per cent per annum between 2014 and 2018.

As Brits plan to collectively light around 84 million candles2 every day this December, the insurer is calling for people to be vigilant to avoid potential fires. Worryingly, 3.5 million people admit they have accidentally left candles burning when they have left the house or gone to bed over the past year alone. Lighting candles isn’t the only cause when it comes to domestic fires, as over three million, in the last twelve months, have accidentally left an open fire burning when leaving the house or going to bed.

Christmas seems to bring out potentially dangerous behaviours more than other times in the year, which may account for why December sees a spike in fires. Some 10.7 million people (20 per cent) admit to decking their halls with hazardous decorations, whether that be hanging stockings in front of a working fireplace (2.7 million), putting Christmas cards on or in front of heaters or lights (2.6 million) or hanging decorations in front of working fireplaces (2.5 million).

Table one: Risky decorations set to adorn homes across the country this Christmas

Decoration Number Of People Who Do This Over Christmas
Hang stockings in front of a working fireplace 2.7 million
Put Christmas cards on or in front of heaters or lights 2.6 million
Hang decorations in front of working fireplaces  2.5 million
Put paper or card decorations in front of heaters or lights  2.3 million
Put presents in front of a working fireplace 2.2million 

Source: Direct Line Home Insurance 2019

Dan Simson, Head of Direct Line Home Insurance, said: “Lighting candles and fires during winter can make us feel nice and cosy, especially when it’s cold outside, but they can potentially be dangerous if not extinguished carefully.

“While we all want our homes to look nice and festive over Christmas, we encourage people to take care and make sure whatever they are decorating their home with doesn’t pose as a potential fire risk. Christmas is a time for enjoying and spending time with family and friends, so it’s very important that people take the precautions necessary to protect their homes”.

Considering the danger open flames can pose, it’s still apparent that 4.2 million people are putting their homes at risk by lighting candles around their Christmas trees. This equates to two million people lighting candles beneath their Christmas tree, 1.9 million lighting them next to their Christmas tree and 1.8 million hanging candles on the tree itself.

With so many people leaving an open flame near their Christmas tree, it is also the case that 8.5 million people, nearly half the number (49 per cent) who buy real Christmas trees, never check how long the tree has been cut for to know that it isn’t too old. The Fire Service3 advises that anyone buying a real Christmas tree checks that it is fresh, as older trees which have been cut too long and dried out are a fire hazard.


Notes to Editors

1        Analysis of Direct Line Home Insurance claims data for the period 1st January 2014 – 31st December 2018. All figures extrapolated to provide a representation of the whole UK insurance market

2        Research conducted by Opinium among a nationally representative sample of 2,001 adults between 1st – 5th November 2019



For further information please contact:

Chelsey Wheeler
PR manager

Direct Line Group

Tel: 01651 832 095

Email: [email protected]

Samantha Stewart

Citigate Dewe Rogerson

[email protected]

0207 025 6497


Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

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