It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas trees, wreaths, candles, strings of lights, stockings, and presents litter your home. During such a joyous season you should be celebrating with loved ones. Unfortunately it’s also the time of year when fire-related injuries and deaths soar. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 30% of home fires and 38% of home fire deaths occur in December, January, and February. From 2004-2008 an average of 260 home fires each year started with Christmas trees and an average of 150 home fires per year were caused by holiday decorations. There’s also an increase in injuries caused by falling off ladders while decorating and tripping over extension cords. Follow these safety guidelines and celebrate a stress-free holiday.
♦ First, test all smoke alarms. They can save your life if anything goes wrong.
♦ To avoid open flame hazards, try using battery-powered candles. If you choose traditional candles, make sure they’re never left unattended or placed in an area where they may be knocked over.
♦ Live trees embody the spirit of Christmas, but they can pose fire hazards. Make sure you purchase a fresh one and keep the stand filled with water to prevent it from drying out. And find a place to recycle your tree right after the holidays as it will dry out more and more the longer it’s up.
♦ If you decide to buy an artificial tree, make sure it’s labeled “fire-resistant.”
♦ Keep all decorations, especially trees, at least three feet away from heat sources.
♦ Not only are LED lights energy-efficient, but they’re also cool to the touch, unlike incandescent bulbs. They’re also more durable, making them much safer to use for decoration.
♦ When decorating the outside of your home, make sure all decorations and extension cords are marked for outdoor use.
♦ Before and after hanging lights, make sure none have been damaged either in storage or while they were out. If so, toss them so you don’t accidentally use them next year.
♦ Turn off all lights when leaving the house or going to sleep. This will prevent overheating.
♦ Overheating can also occur if you overload an electrical outlet, so keep in mind how much you’ll be plugging in and be sure to purchase a surge protector.
♦ We all love the holiday season, but try not to keep your decorations up for too long. They’re typically meant for temporary use and aren’t made to withstand extended periods of time exposed to weather and other damaging elements.
♦ All light strings and extension cords should be kept dry, both while they’re out and in storage.
♦ If you need to use a ladder, make sure it’s wooden or fiberglass as metal ones conduct electricity.
♦ No wires or cords should be pinched in doors or windows or run under heavy furniture and rugs.
♦And many decorations can be harmful to young children:
◊ Light strings and garland are strangulation hazards
◊ Avoid using sharp or breakable decorations and ornaments in case a child gets hold of one
◊ Make sure any small (“mouth-sized”) decorations are kept out of reach
Visit Electrical Safety Foundation International‘s page on holiday safety for additional information, infographics, pictures, videos, and more.