‘Tis the season to be jolly. But it’s tough to be jolly when you’re sick or hurt or if you’ve gone and set something on fire. Here are some tips on safe holiday decorating from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Red Cross.Candles can tempt dangerous fires. Be sure that candles are kept away from decorations or other combustible materials. Don’t leave children alone in a room with lit candles, and always keep candles as well as matches and lighters, out of their reach. If you have pets, especially dogs, keep lit candles out of “tail wagging” height. It’s bad enough cleaning up after Fido knocks a drink over. A tail vs. candle scenario will have much more dire consequences.
Be careful with Christmas lights. Before using lights outdoors, check the label to be sure they’ve been certified for outdoor use. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. And never pull or tug lights to remove them. Take the extra time to remove them carefully.
When hanging lights, be careful using ladders. Every ladder should be placed on a firm, level surface with the braces engaged properly. When climbing the ladder you should ask someone to hold onto it. Always reposition your ladder closer to where you’re hanging lights as over-reaching or leaning far to one side while on the ladder could make you lose your balance and fall. “Hopping” the ladder from side to side is a horrible idea. Don’t even try it.
Check all tree lights – even if you’ve just purchased them – before hanging them. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks. Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house as the lights could short out and start a fire.
Choose a fresh Christmas tree. A fresh tree is green and needles are hard to pull from branches and don’t break when bent between your fingers. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree shouldn’t lose many needles. Secure it in a sturdy stand and place the tree away from heat sources and exits. Before placing the tree in its stand, though, cut a few inches off the trunk to expose the fresh wood. This will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard. Be sure to keep the stand filled with water because heated rooms can dry trees out rapidly. If you purchase an artificial tree, be sure it’s fire-retardant
As for tree decorations, use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials. Needless to say, lit candles should not be used as tree decorations. Remove all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child or can cause a fire if near an open flame.
If you have small children or if small children are likely to be visiting your home during the holidays, take extra care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Keep tree decorations with small removable parts out of the reach of children and avoid decorations that look like candy or food that may tempt a youngster to eat them.
There are more holiday tips on the way, so in the meantime be careful and enjoy the season. This is a great time of year so please avoid careless accidents that can spoil it.