Safety While Holiday Decorating

Safety While Holiday Decorating

Stay Safe While Decorating for the Holidays

In recent years, hospitals have treated more than 10,000 patients annually for falls, burns and other injuries sustained while hanging decorations. If you don’t have a safety plan this holiday season, it’s time to get one. The following items are things to be aware of during the holidays so you can keep your family protected.


Photo by steve p2008 via Flickr

A Christmas tree is the traditional center of a home's holiday decorations. There’s nothing like the smell of a newly cut pine or fir tree—or the mood it creates in a home. Both real and artificial trees can pose safety threats, though. The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that 230 fires start with Christmas trees every year.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), fresh trees are much less flammable when they’re well-hydrated, so make sure your real tree is secured in a stable tree stand with plenty of water. The CPSC also suggests keeping fresh trees away from fireplaces and other heat sources. Artificial trees are generally fire-resistant and also might be a good option for your home.


Photo by Chiway via Flickr

'Tis the season to deck the halls, especially with candles, which are a popular way to add atmosphere and a lovely Christmas scent to your home. But they can pose a fire hazard if left unattended or placed in dangerous spots. To prevent a fire, only use lighted candles when you are in the same room. Also, keep matches and lighters away from any young kids in the house.


Photo by antijoe via Flickr

A survey by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) estimates that 86 percent of households decorate for Christmas or other winter celebrations—and two-thirds of those hang lights. An essential step to keeping your holiday lighting design safe is to make sure your wiring is in good shape.

The ESFI offers the following suggestions:

  • When hanging lights outdoors, use a non-conductive wooden or fiberglass ladder to reach your roof. If something shorts out, being on a non-conductive ladder could save your life.
  • Consider using LED lights this year; they produce less heat, feature epoxy lenses (more durable than their glass counterparts) and are much more energy-efficient.
  • Inspect light strands and any extension cords you use for frayed spots before you plug them in. If you find damage, throw them away and replace with new ones.
  • Don’t drape anything, including fabric or other decorations, over light bulbs or lamp shades.
  • Make sure your lights are attended; turn them off before leaving the house or going to bed at night.

You should never have more than three strings of lights attached to one power outlet. If you don’t have enough outlets or circuitry in your house to power this year’s light display, a generator rental from Sunbelt Rentals might solve the problem. Surge protectors also can help protect your home and lighting from other electrical problems.


Photo by Jason Pier in DC via Flickr

  • If you have small children, avoid glass ornaments that could break and cut little hands and fingers. Also stay away from small ornaments that look like candies; kids could try to eat them.
  • Choose fire-resistant tinsel and garland.
  • Don’t burn candles near any real evergreens, such as trees or decorative boughs. These plants are highly flammable, and the effect isn’t worth the risk. If you’re going for the evergreen-and-candle look, choose fire-resistant artificial greens.
  • Artificial snow sprays contain chemicals that could cause breathing problems if used improperly, so make sure to read and follow the instructions.


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