The Christmas season is here, one of the most joyous times of the year. It’s the season for family gatherings, decorations and making memories. Unfortunately, it is also the season for fires and accidents – the majority of which can be prevented by following some simple Christmas safety tips.
According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), December has one of the highest number of house fires. Each Christmas season, some 400 house fires in the US are sparked by holiday decorations resulting in $15 million in property damage. Also, the Electrical Safety Foundation reports that there are some 5,800 injuries each December from falls while people are placing rooftop decorations on their homes.
Here are some Christmas safety tips to keep you, your family, and your home safe during the holiday season.
Christmas trees – There’s nothing like the look and scent of a real Christmas tree as the centerpiece of your home decorations. Real trees, however, can be a fire hazard risk and require care. When selecting a real tree, make sure it is fresh and green and the needles do not fall off when touched. About two inches should be cut from the bottom of the trunk. Water should be added daily to the tree stand to provide moisture.
A dried-out tree is like having a can of gasoline sitting in your living room. If it catches fire, flames can spread very quickly. The NFPA reports that 230 house fires were caused by Christmas trees each year between 2007 and 2011.
The tree should be at least three feet away from any heat source such as a fireplace, stove, radiator or vent. Never place candles on a real tree. Use only Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved lights. Make sure the lights and cords are not damaged. One of every three house fires caused by a Christmas tree is related to an electrical problem.
Lights – Holiday lights should not be used for more than three seasons since they are delicate and can damage easily. Do not use more than three sets of push-in bulb strings together. You should also not use more than 50 screw-in bulb strings together. Check the cords for fraying or damage. Also, check the conditions of the bulbs. As mentioned, make sure the light sets are UL approved. Turn off the lights when leaving your home or going to bed.
Candles – Although real candles can set a mood, they can be dangerous. December is the prime month for candle-related fires. Never leave candles unattended in a room or place them near anything combustible. Place candles on a non-flammable and heat-resistant surface or plate. According to the NFPA, 56% of candle-related house fires are the result of candles being too close to another object.
Extension cords – Never run an extension cord under a rug and make sure it is placed away from where people walk to avoid a tripping hazard. Check the condition of the cord before using it. Make sure the cord is UL approved. Do not overload electrical outlets.
Children and pets – Holiday decorations draw the attention of both children and pets. While adding to the festive ambiance of your home, decorations can be a hazard for your child or pet. Poinsettias, holly and mistletoe are poisonous if ingested. Symptoms of poisoning from these plants include rashes and nausea. If your child exhibits these symptoms, call the National Poison Center at 800-222-1222. Pets can also show similar symptoms and should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.
Drink responsibly – The Christmas season is the time for parties. Consider having a designated driver or limit your alcohol intake.
Following these Christmas safety tips will make your Christmas a merry one!