Christmas is the time of year people are most likely to suffer a "devastating" fire in their home, Essex Fire and Rescue Service has said.
The fire service is urging people to take precautions such as planning escape routes and installing smoke alarms, to prevent injuries.
People have also been warned to not cook while drunk.
Of all the accidental house fires in 2008, 10% occurred in the run up to Christmas, a spokesman said.
Senior divisional officer Julian Ashley said: "It is important to be fire safe in your home all year round, but Christmas is a time when there are extra risks coming into the home so it is important to take extra precautions.
"People also vastly underestimate the deadly strength of toxic smoke and overestimate how long they have to escape should a fire break out.
"The reality is that just two to three breaths of smoke in a fire can render a person unconscious.
"Christmas should be a time for celebration rather than tragedy and for this reason I'm urging people to be fire aware and stay fire safe."