Holiday Decorations Safety Reminders & Tips
The holiday season is here. Families across the country are preparing for celebrations with dinners, gifts, and, of course, lavish decorations. While massive light displays and show-stopping Christmas trees are impressive, these items can pose a serious fire hazard. However, you can do several things to protect your family and property from decoration mishaps during the holidays.
Be Mindful of Candles
Several holiday traditions, including the Hanukkah menorah, revolve around the use of candles. In addition, many homes enjoy the warm feeling that flickering candles bring to holiday celebrations. However, open flames can cause unprecedented disasters if put in a dangerous place or left unattended.
Avoid accidental candle fires by placing candles away from hanging curtains, wrapping paper, and other flammable materials. If you have small children or pets roaming the area, place candles out of reach of small hands or curious animals. For peace of mind, consider using battery-operated candles instead.
Do Not Leave Lights Unattended
Christmas lights are notorious for causing electrical fires, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International. Between 2004 and 2008, holiday decorations caused an estimated 1,170 home fires per year. These fires can start for several reasons, but common causes include overuse of electrical circuits, leading to malfunction.
When you leave the house, make sure to unplug all Christmas lights. Do this before going to sleep, before leaving for work, and before leaving for long trips. This will reduce the risk of fires and stress on your home’s electrical system.
Care for Your Tree
Your Christmas tree is often the centerpiece of your holiday celebrations, but it can pose a significant electrical and fire hazard. Follow these maintenance instructions to reduce your risk of tree-related accidents.
- Place your tree at least 3 feet away from fireplaces, radiators, and other heat sources.
- If you purchase an artificial tree, select one that has a fire-resistant label.
- If you have a tree with metallic leaves, do not put lights or electric ornaments on it.
- Keep your tree’s water bowl filled throughout the season. A warm room will dry out the tree, which increases the risk of fire. The water bowl will keep your tree hydrated.
- Before placing your tree in the water bowl, trim 1 to 2 inches off its trunk to ensure water absorption.
- Purchase a fresh tree. Older trees dry out faster, which poses a significant fire hazard.
Be Careful With Outdoor Lights
Do not use indoor and outdoor Christmas lights interchangeably. Outdoor lights, by design, withstand rain and snow. Using indoor lights on a house’s exterior can cause sparks and fires. When using outdoor lights, fasten them securely to fixed surfaces such as walls and trees.
In addition, be careful with your extension cords. If you place them in low spaces, rain and melted snow can pose an electrocution hazard. Use surge protectors to reduce this damage and keep your cords dry. Consider switching to LED lights to reduce heat production and your electricity use.
Keep Decorations Fresh
While it may be tempting to reuse holiday lights year after year, you should throw out decorations that have been around for a long time. Old light strands can be especially dangerous; switch to newer models with updated lights and fused plugs.
Watch Your Outlets
Make sure that you aren’t overloading your outlets this holiday season. Plug a maximum of three light strands into an outlet at the same time. A higher number can result in short-circuiting and electrical fires. For extra protection, consider using a power strip instead of wall outlets.
Always consider your family’s safety when decorating. These tips can help you enjoy a happy, secure winter.