Every holiday is holly and jolly until a fire breaks out and ruins Christmas. Fire departments across the country respond to an average of 170 house fires each year that were started by Christmas trees or holiday decorations. And, on average, these fires cause four deaths, over a dozen injuries, and millions of dollars of damage each year.
Let’s look at some holiday decorating safety tips you can put to good use at home or in the office.
Christmas Tree Safety Tips
Whether you opt for a real Christmas tree or a fake one, keep the following safety tips in mind to keep your home and office merry and bright:
- Water your fresh tree daily. Not only will it keep your tree looking healthy, it also prevents it from drying out which reduces the chance of it catching on fire.
- Keep trees away from heat sources, such at space heaters and fireplaces. Live trees are especially flammable.
- Cut an inch or two from the end of a fresh tree for better water adsorption.
- If you’re buying a fake tree, make sure it specifically says “fire resistant.”
- Keep your tree out of the way of traffic to prevent trip or fall hazards.
Christmas Lights Safety Tips
Though Christmas lights today are much safer than they used to be, they still pose fire danger and other risks that can ruin the holiday spirit. Take caution when decorating your home or office with Christmas lights with these safety tips:
- Check your lights for broken or frayed wires or broken plugs. If a string of lights appears to be damaged, don’t risk it – just replace it.
- Look for lights that have been safety tested.
- Avoid mounting lights in a way that may cause damage to the lights or cord, such as using nails or tacks.
- Turn off all Christmas lights when leaving home or work or before going to bed.
- Make sure lights are secured to prevent them from falling and creating trip or fall hazards.
- If you have a metallic tree, avoid using electric lights. Faulty lights can electrically charge the tree and create a major hazard.
- Don’t overload power strips and outlets.
Christmas Decoration Safety Tips
Pretty decorations like tinsel, garland, holly, and fake snow seem harmless, but they’re far from it. Use a little common sense and the following safety tips to get the best use out of your Christmas decor:
- Wear a mask when spraying artificial snow. The fumes from the spray can may enter the lungs and cause irritation or illness.
- Don’t place candles near the Christmas tree or other decorations.
- Avoid decorations that are sharp or could break easily.
- Keep decorations out of the way of high traffic areas. Make sure they’re secure to prevent trip or fall hazards.
Fireplace Safety Tips
There’s nothing quite as relaxing as a warm, roaring fire during the holidays. The following safety tips can ensure that things don’t heat up too much:
- Don’t overload your fireplace with wrapping paper or other materials.
- Keep the fireplace clear of any items that may unintentionally catch on fire.
- Place a screen in front of the fireplace to prevent embers from escaping.
- Keep colored “fire salts” away from children and use care when tossing them into the fire.
- Have an emergency plan in case a fire breaks out. Practice makes perfect, so take time to go over the plan with your family or work group so everyone knows how to escape the home or building.
- If you plan on using your fireplace at least once this season, make sure you have a working fire extinguisher in the house.
- Avoid wearing loose clothing when starting or tending a fire. Keep hair pulled back and keep children and pets away from the fire.
‘Tis the Season for Safety
Don’t let the spirit of cheer and goodwill cloud your judgment when it comes to safety. There are arguably more safety hazards around the holidays than any other time of year, and it’s up to you to ensure you’re doing your part in creating a safe holiday season for all.
Check out our other posts in the Safety Wonderland blog series: