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by Lori Herren December 03, 2020 5 min read

December is HERE!! The long awaited return of holiday cheer is now in full swing. If you haven’t begun to “deck the halls” of your home, what are you waiting for? There’s so much to do, lots of work goes into making your home MERRY!! A beautifully decorated tree, tinsel and garland hung from the mantel, stocking hanging and ready to be filled by Santa on Christmas Eve, all are wonderful reminders of the season that fill you with holiday spirit. As your holiday decorating begins, inside and outside, enjoy all the special things of the holiday season. Most important of all: don’t forget to make sure you and your family are safe. A lot goes into holiday decor and a lot can go wrong, quickly. Home decoration fires are an unfortunate reality that has happened to many families. Here are some safety tips to make sure you enjoy your Christmas decorations without any cause to worry.

The Christmas Tree

Nothing holds more joy or memories than a Christmas tree. Ornaments passed down from generations, souvenirs from vacations, handmade treasures from when the kids are little, all hold a special place in your heart and in your home. Holiday decorations hold special memories for all of us. As sentimental as they are and as crazy as we are about our trees, there are some important things to consider to make sure the tree, lights and decorations are all safe.

  • Always keep your Christmas tree away from heaters, fireplaces, and all forms of heat sources. Real trees have needles and sap that make them highly flammable.
  • Make sure your tree is not blocking a “high traffic” walking pattern in your home.
  • If using a live tree, keep it watered constantly. The more it dries out the more flammable it can be.
  • If you prefer going with an artificial tree, make sure the tree you purchase says “fire resistant” on the label.
  • Check your lights for exposed wires or loose connections before putting them on your tree.
  • When stringing lights, either indoors or outdoors, do so with another person. Sometimes ladders are required and you never want to climb a ladder when you are alone. Having help with the lights also cuts down on them becoming tangled, which is the most frustrating thing about lights.
  • Don’t use anything to secure your lights that could puncture into their wiring and cause an electrical fire.
  • Unplug lights before replacing a bulb or doing maintenance on them.
  • Only purchase lights that are approved by Underwriters Laboratory (UL). You will see the UL on the tag which shows it has been tested for safety. Green UL means it is tested and safe for indoor use only and red UL means it is tested and safe for both indoor and outdoor use.
  • Indoor lights should not be near or touching drapes or fabrics.
  • ALWAYS unplug your tree before going to bed and leaving the house.
  • Don’t ever use electric lights on a metallic tree!
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher near your tree in case of emergencies.

 

Outdoor Decorating

Seeing thousands upon thousands of lights in an outdoor display is my favorite thing. The more lights the better. But before you go all in on your outdoor display to awe and blind your neighbors, think through these safety tips that you might not have considered before.

  • As with your indoor lights, check them thoroughly to make sure there are no exposed and frayed wires.
  • Make sure the lights are certified UL to be used safely outdoors (Red UL).
  • Keep your ladder and your outdoor decorations safely away from all power lines.
  • When mounting your lights do not puncture the wire with nails or tacks.
  • Only use heavy-duty extension cords and only use ones that are specifically made for outdoor use.
  • All outdoor decorations and lights need to be plugged into circuits that are protected by GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupters).
  • Shut off all outdoor lights before going to bed or leaving the house. You can purchase a timer for them that will shut them off as well.
  • Don’t use more than 3 standard size sets of lights per extension cord.
  • Keep your lights, decorations, and yourself at least 10 feet away from power lines at all times.
  • When putting up lights, be sure to use a fiberglass or wooden ladder. Metal ladders are conductors of electricity.

 

Fires In The Fireplace & Candles

Nothing helps set the tone for a joyous, peaceful holiday mood like a nice roaring fire in the fireplace. As beautiful as they are, fires bring a whole set of safety hazards with them.

  • DO NOT try and burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. Wrapping paper is highly flammable and can cause what’s known as a flash fire.
  • Remove decoration and stockings from the mantel before you build a fire in your fireplace and don’t put them back until the fire is completely out and has cooled off.
  • Keep a screen in front of the fireplace the entire time the fire is burning.
  • Check to make sure the flue is open properly,
  • Candles are beautiful and very popular this time of year, but remember they are fires just the same. Never leave a burning candle unattended.
  • Keep candles in flame resistant/fire resistant candle holders.
  • Don’t put candles near your wrapping paper, trees,  and decorations and keep them in a safe spot where there’s no chance of them being knocked over.
  • Opt for safer, battery operated candles if you can.

 

Christmas And Children

Christmas and children go hand in hand, bringing joy, wonder, and laughter to the season. Keeping kids safe in the midst of the tree and and your holiday decorating now becomes your number one priority. Here are a few safety tips to implement and put the worry out of your holiday cheer.

  • Keep all candles away from children, high enough where they can never reach them or be able to knock them down. Keep electric outlets covered and extension cords and power stips out of their reach.
  • Avoid putting decorations that are sharp, breakable or toxic in any level that a child can reach. 
  • Avoid decor that looks like candy or food, it is too tempting for little ones to put in their mouths.
  • After gift unwrapping happens, pick up all ribbons, bows, bags, and plastic remains from packaging and items that a small child could become choked on.
  • There are several beautiful Christmas plants that people love to display at the holidays: poinsettias, holly leaves/berries, and mistletoe, to name a few. Unfortunately they are all poisonous so, if you must have them, keep them up high where they cannot be reached by a child or in a position where they can be knocked off a ledge into the floor.
  • Use non-breakable ornaments on your tree, or at least put kid-friendly ornaments toward the lower half of the tree. They WILL touch them, it’s just inevitable!

 

Holiday Decorating Safety

The Christmas spirit is quite contagious, leading us to want to decorate every square inch of our home. From lights to trees, wreaths to garland, extension cords to power strips, make sure everything you do is safe and brings joy to you and your family. However you choose to decorate and celebrate this year, have fun being in the moments with the ones you love!

 

 

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Sources:

https://www.onemedical.com/blog/live-well/holiday-safety-tips

https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/611.pdf

https://www.firstenergycorp.com/help/safety/using-electricity/holiday-decorating.html

https://www.travelers.com/resources/home/safety/holiday-decorating-safety

 

Lori Herren
Lori Herren

Lori D. Herren is a graduate of the University of West Georgia where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications for Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations, with minors in Marketing and Music. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and pursuing her love of music.


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