During the holidays, seasonal decorations can help put your household in the holiday spirit. Unfortunately we tend to get caught up in the festivities and less concerned with safety. When not used properly, decorations - especially lights - can create safety hazards or cause fires. By taking the proper precautions both inside and outside your home, you can prevent hazards and focus on friends and family during the holidays. Follow these simple steps to make sure this Christmas is a merry one.
Christmas Tree Safety:
- First and foremost you want to pick out a freshly cut Christmas tree. A tree that is too dry can catch fire easily.
- You never want to place a Christmas tree near a heat source such as a fireplace, radiator or stove. NEVER use candles to decorate your tree or bring an open flame around the tree.
- Never burn old trees or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. Opt to take it to a recycling center or have it removed by a community pick-up service.
- Live trees are highly flammable due to needles and sap so keep a fire extinguisher near.
- If you choose to get an artificial tree, look for a label that says "fire resistant".
- Only use non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to decorate your tree with.
- Be sure to keep the tree stand filled with water and monitor water levels regularly.
- Do not overwhelm electrical sockets by plugging too many cords into a single unit.
- Always unplug holiday lights when no one is home and when everyone goes to sleep.
- Search old light strands for any cracks, frayed edges or bare spots. Be sure to throw out the damaged cords.
- Never use indoor lights outdoors due to the fact they will not withstand the elements and can cause electric shock if damaged. A red label means lights can be used indoors and out, while green means indoor-use only.
- When stringing lights and decorations above your ordinary reach, make sure you use a proper ladder with someone supporting the base.
- Don't use holiday lights unless they have cleared the safety tests conducted by Underwriters Lab or another nationally recognized testing facility.
- Do not hammer tacks or nails into the electrical cord when hanging lights. Use clips to safely attach lights to the house instead.
Fireplaces & Chimneys:
- Never burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. They may cause fire-starting embers or produce a build-up of dangerous chemical fumes in the home
- Have your fireplace and wood stove inspected annually and clean out your chimney when needed.
- Remove bags, ribbons, paper and bows from fireplace and surrounding areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose suffocation & choking hazards to children or cause a fire if it is near a flame.
Children & Pets:
- Place all ornaments/decorations and candles out of reach of small children and pets. Small/breakable ornaments can be easily knocked down which can result in cuts or choking. Opt for unbreakable ornaments.
- Beware of toxic decorations and plants such as mistletoe, holly berries and poinsettias. Mistletoe and holly berries can be poisonous if more than a few are swallowed. Poinsettias are poisonous when eaten so keep them out of reach of kids and pets.
- Old tinsel may also pose a threat due to the lead. If you are unsure of its composition discard any and all old tinsel to be on the safe.
- If you have children in your home, use safety caps on all electrical outlets that are not in use to prevent shock.
- Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child or pet to eat them.
- Keep a close eye on burning candles and check them frequently to make sure they do not burn down too far or drip hot wax.
- Make sure candles are placed in sturdy, non-combustible holders away from decorations and other inflammable materials.
- Never leave candles burning unattended and remember to blow out all candles when leaving a room or before going to bed.
- Keep them away from curtains, bedding, paper, walls, or other areas with the potential to catch flame.
- Put them out of reach where children and pets can't grasp them and knock them over. You may want to try battery-powered LED candles as a safer alternative.