Holiday decorations are a tradition that adds to the wonder of the season, but they can also increase the potential risks of fire and injuries if not used safely and your holiday wish list probably doesn’t include a trip to the hospital. Here are a few indoor decoration safety tips to ensure you have a safe holiday season.
Christmas Tree Safety
A Christmas tree can generally remain fire resistant throughout the season if you follow a few simple steps:
- Trim the trunk 2-4 inches above the original cut to allow moisture into the foliage
- Moisture is the primary key for keeping your tree fresh and increasing its fire resistance, so put the trunk in water immediately after re-cutting it. Remember to check the water levels daily and never let the water level go below the trunk bottom.
- The Christmas tree should be placed away from heat sources, including wood stoves, fireplaces and heater outlets.
- Keep in mind that even an artificial tree can catch on fire, so use the same precautions for artificial trees as you would for a live tree.
- Use care when hanging ornaments on your tree. Keep pet and child decoration safety in mind by placing non-toxic and unbreakable ornaments on the lowest branches of the tree. For extra safety, consider replacing metal hooks with ribbon to prevent the risk of choking and/or injury.
- Never leave a lighted tree unattended
Lights and Decorations
First and foremost, choose decorations that are flame retardant or flame resistant. It is also important to keep decorations away from windows, doors and sources of heat. Use lights that have a label verifying laboratory testing and safety. Be sure to only use indoor lights inside and check all electrical cords to make sure they don’t have frayed wires or broken sockets. Other light safety tips include:
- Do not link more than 3 strands of lights, unless the instructions indicate that it is safe to do so.
- Don’t leave lights turned on unattended or for prolonged periods of time.
- There are several styles of Christmas lights to choose from, but keep in mind that LED lights produce virtually no heat, so they are typically the safest option.
Use the Appropriate Outlets
Read the label that is attached to all light strands and other wired decorations to make sure you will be using the appropriate wattage levels. Check all decorations and lights before installing or plugging them in. Do not use any lighted decorations or lights that have frayed or bare wires or loose connections as this may pose a shock or fire hazard. Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many lights and/or decorations, because they can overheat and cause a fire.
- Don’t smoke out your family, your guests or Santa by having a dirty chimney.
- Have your wood burning stove and/or fireplace inspected and cleaned once a year to prevent the risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
- It’s also best to avoid throwing wrapping paper in the fireplace, because a flash fire can start due to the wrappings suddenly igniting.
- If you like to burn candles, keep in mind that appropriate placement is essential. Keep candles away from paper, walls, curtains, clothing and curtains. Make sure to blow out candles before leaving a room and warn children to keep away from burning candles.