The holiday season is the most joyous of the year but, sadly, can also be the most tragic. A large number of house fires occur during December, mostly related to holiday decorations. According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), home holiday decorations cause over 400 house fires and $15 million in property damage and loss annually. Additionally, some 5,800 injuries occur each year from falls while people are placing rooftop decorations on their homes, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International.
Here are some tips to keep you, your family, and your home safe during the holiday season.
Christmas trees – Many families prefer real trees for their home for Christmas because of their natural look and fragrance. Real trees, however, require care. When selecting a real tree, make sure the needles are fresh and green and 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.
The tree should not be placed near any heat source such as a fireplace, stove, radiator or vent. Never use candles on a real tree. Use only Underwriters Laboratory 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. The NFPA reports that one of every 31 house fires sparked by a Christmas tree results in death compared to one in every 144 house fires.
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. Do not overload electrical outlets or extension cords. Never run an electrical cord under a rug. 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 non-flammable and heat-resistant surface or plate. According to the NFPA, 56 percent of candle-related house fires are the result of candles being too close to another object.
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. Also, never let your child handle electrical extension cords since most contain lead that can rub off on hands. Wash hands after handling electrical cords. Tinsel, small toys, and decorations pose choking hazards. It’s best to keep an eye on your child or pet when these near objects.
Following these holiday safety tips will make your holidays memorable – in a good way!
If you are in need of an insurance agent or are looking to find out what your insurance options are for your home, auto, health or business please contact me.
Independent Insurance Broker
Walter J. May Insurance Agency Inc., Hingham, MA
Direct: 781-740-5421 Cell: 617-827-6848