Holiday decorating is festive and fun and helps add to the beauty and mood of the holidays. It also increases some safety risks around the home or office. Follow these simple tips to help you decorate safely for the holidays this year.
Christmas Tree Safety
Make sure you are buying the freshest tree possible. To check for freshness, follow these simple steps:
- A fresh tree is green.
- Fresh needles are hard to pull from branches.
- When bent between your fingers, fresh needles do not break.
- The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin.
- When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles means that tree is too dry.
Keep a fresh-cut tree outdoors and cover the trunk in snow, or immerse it in a bucket of water until you are ready to decorate it.
When you are ready to put up a live tree, cut about 2 inches diagonally off the bottom of the trunk. The new cut will help the tree to absorb water and preserve its freshness.
Choose a spot for your tree that does not block traffic and is at least three feet from any heat source, including heating vents, radiators or fireplaces.
Put the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand with widespread legs, and keep the stand filled with water.
Holiday Lighting Safety
Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the label from an independent testing laboratory, such as UL, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and maintenance.
Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings before using them. Throw away any that have cracks, splits or appear damaged.
Mixing and matching lights can create a fire hazard, so keep outside lights outdoors and inside lights indoors.
When hanging your lights, string lights together using built-in connectors.
Remember to unplug all decorations and lights, both inside and outside your home, before leaving or going to bed.
If you blow a fuse, unplug the lights from the outlet and immediately replace the blown fuse. If the replacement fuse blows again, a short circuit may be present. Throw the faulty light string or decoration away, or if it’s new, return it for a refund.
Plug outside lighting only into a ground fault circuit interrupting (GFCI) outlet, as this will safeguard the outlet from any interaction with water.
Do not secure outside lights with staples or nails, and avoid placing indoor extension cords under carpeting, rugs and furniture.
Place candles in stable holders and in a spot where they cannot be easily knocked down or blown over.
Never use lit candles to decorate your Christmas tree or near other evergreens or plants.
Never leave a burning candle unattended, and always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
Keep candles away from other decorations and wrapping paper.
Never burn your Christmas tree in the fireplace. When dry, evergreens burn like tinder. Flames can flare out of control, and send sparks flying into a room, or up the chimney to ignite creosote deposits.
Keep a screen before the fireplace any time a fire is burning.
Do not burn papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
And finally, if you haven’t checked your smoke alarm batteries recently, now is a good time to do so. Make sure your Christmas is memorable in a good way this year and not because of a family disaster.