It’s that time of year again. The season of good cheer, crackling fires, brightly wrapped presents, and ornamental trees, a time that many people associate with childhood delight.
But the holidays also come with their own set of risks, and nothing quite ruins the jolly mood like a fire hazard or an injured relative.
Here are a few essential holiday safety tips for the home to ensure that your holiday gathering stays focused on cookies and loved ones.
Merry and Bright
All those lights brighten spirits when it’s cold outside, but with the higher-than-usual electricity usage, they can also pose a major fire hazard. And while you may not be able to imagine anything more frustrating and exhausting than a string of lights that just won’t work, trust us: a fire truck is not the big red sleigh you want to visit your house this year.
When you break out old holiday lights, make sure to check all cords for signs of wear and tear. Pay careful attention to:
- Frayed, loose, or bare wires
- Burnt out bulbs
- Cracked or damaged sockets
- Loose connections
Any of the above is criteria for throwing away lights. It might be annoying to replace the lights, but it’s better to replace them than risk a fire.
If you replace any bulbs, make sure to match the new bulb’s wattage and voltage to the original light string. Always unplug the light string before replacing a bulb.
Even if a light string works, don’t get overzealous with your lights. You should never connect more than three light strings together, as this could create a shock and overload your outlets. In addition, you should never leave lights unattended–turn them off when you leave the house or go to bed.
Deck the Halls
Now for the showstopper: the tree. Remember, humans have used trees to start fires since time immemorial. When hanging a tree with electrical lights, always be aware of potential fire risks.
It all starts with selecting a tree. If you go for a live tree, look for a freshly-cut tree – as fresh as possible. You can spot this kind of tree by checking the needles, which should be bright, healthy green and shouldn’t fall off when touched.
When placing the tree, make sure it’s at least three feet away from any potential heat source, like a fireplace, radiator, heat vent, or light. Make sure the tree isn’t blocking any exits or limiting the flow of traffic to an exit.
Give your tree some love, especially once it’s been decorated. A dried-out tree ignites more easily, so make sure to water your tree daily. You’ll know that the tree is healthy if it’s drinking the water you pour into the tree stand.
'Tis the (Party) Season
You’ve left your office holiday party behind and you’re ready to host the real event of the season. But remember: crowds inevitably invite more safety risks, so you need to plan ahead.
If you’re like many people, you cook up a storm in preparation for a party. Never leave food unattended if the stove is on or an appliance is plugged in, as cooking fires are the biggest cause of household fires.
If you’re decorating with plants, make sure to keep poisonous or potentially harmful plants out of reach of pets and children. These include:
- Holly berries
- Jerusalem cherry
In addition, make sure to manage the flow of traffic when hosting a holiday party. Everyone should always be able to quickly and easily access an exit, and you shouldn’t place decorations anywhere that would block an exit.
Need More Holiday Safety Tips?
Before you break out the party tips and your prettiest wrapping paper, make sure to make a safety list (and check it twice). That way, you can stay focused on what really matters this holiday season: your loved ones.