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holiday decorating safety

Holiday decorating safety should be on everyone’s to-do list this winter. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) there were 15,000 injuries related to holiday decorations in 2012. Mishaps send about 250 people to the ER daily, with falls, cuts and back strains topping the list of injuries.1 At Restoration Authority safety is one of our top priorities.

Now that we have discussed some common injuries related to holiday decorating these are some tips to stay safe:

1Keep live trees away from heat sources. Place trees away from fireplaces, and heaters. Keep a fire extinguisher near your tree.

2Keep your tree hydrated. Keeping your tree hydrated is an easy way to prevent it from catching on fire. To ensure proper hydration check your tree’s water level daily.

3If you buy an artificial tree make sure it’s labeled “fire resistant”. Fire resistant trees are less susceptible to catching on fire.

4Don’t burn wrapping paper in your fireplace. Paper can burn very quickly and can cause flash fires. Instead recycle or reuse your wrapping paper.

5Work together when stringing lights, and putting decorations above your normal reach. Make sure you use an actual ladder with someone supporting the base.

6Double-check your lights for safety. Replace any lights with frayed wires, broken sockets, and loose connections. 

7Turn off all lights before you go to bed and before leaving your house. This will help prevent a short and avoid a fire.

8Secure candles. Keep candles on a sturdy base to prevent tipping. Never leave a lit candle unattended.

9Use unbreakable ornaments. If you have fragile ornaments place them out of reach of children and pets.

10Avoid decorations that look like candy or food if you have young children or pets.

Decorate Safely

Decorating is one of the best ways to get in a holiday mood, but emergency rooms see thousands of injuries involving holiday decorating every season.

When decorating follow these tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Keep potentially poisonous plants – mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis – away from children
  • If using an artificial tree, check that it is labeled “fire resistant”
  • If using a live tree, cut off about 2 inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption, remember to water it and remove it from your home when it is dry
  • Place your tree at least 3 feet away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources, making certain not to block doorways
  • Avoid placing breakable ornaments or ones with small, detachable parts on lower tree branches where small children can reach them
  • Only use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors, and choose the right ladder for the task when hanging lights
  • Replace light sets that have broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections
  • Follow the package directions on the number of light sets that can be plugged into one socket
  • Never nail, tack or stress wiring when hanging lights and keep plugs off the ground away from puddles and snow
  • Turn off all lights and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house.

Watch out for Fire-Starters

Candles and Fireplaces
Use of candles and fireplaces, combined with an increase in the amount of combustible, seasonal decorations in many homes during the holidays, means more risk for fire. The National Fire Protection Association reports that one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles and that two of every five decoration fires happen because the decorations are placed too close to a heat source.

  • Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over and out of reach of children.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high and out of reach for children in a locked cabinet.
  • Use flameless, rather than lighted, candles near flammable objects.
  • Don’t burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace.
  • Use a screen on the fireplace at all times when a fire is burning.
  • Never leave candles or fireplaces burning unattended or when you are asleep.
  • Check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year.

Turkey Fryers
Be alert to the dangers if you’re thinking of celebrating the holidays by frying a turkey. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there have been 154 turkey-fryer related fires, burns or other injuries since 2004, with $5.2 million in property damage losses have resulted from these incidents.

NSC discourages the use of turkey fryers at home and urges those who prefer fried turkey to seek out professional establishments or consider using an oil-less turkey fryer. If you must fry your own turkey, follow all U.S. Fire Administration turkey fryer guidelines.