It’s time for celebration! Use these tips to stay safe this holiday season and to avoid these common hazards!
There are real-tree people and artificial-tree people. Whichever side of the debate you fall on, it’s important to practice topiary safety. Many artificial trees are fire resistant, but it’s important to purchase one with a statement insuring this protection.
When it comes to real trees, a fresh evergreen will stay vibrant longer and be less of a fire hazard. To check freshness, remember:
- A fresh tree is green and a fresh trunk is sticky with resin.
- Fresh needles are difficult to pull from the branches and will not break when tested between your fingers.
- If you bounce the tree trunk off the ground and a shower of needles falls to the ground, the tree is too dry!
Remember, always place your tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces and radiators. Heated rooms can dry out your tree and create a fire hazard.
Once you get your real tree home, cut at least two inches off the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption. Trim excess branches and set the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand with a wide base. Add water to the base frequently.
Place the tree out of high-traffic zones and do not block doorways. Use thin guy-wires to secure larger trees to walls or the ceiling.
If inhaled, artificial snow sprays can irritate lungs. Always read the container label and follow the directions carefully.
Indoor and outdoor lights can be a hazard.
- Only use lights that have been tested for safety and are labeled as such from an independent testing laboratory.
- Check new and old lights for broken sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connections, repairing what you can and discarding any damaged sets.
- Secure outdoor lights to trees, house, walls, or other supports to protect them from wind damage.
- Do not exceed three standard-size sets of lights per extension cord and always turn off lights- both tree and decorations- when you go to bed or leave the house.
- NEVER use electric lights on a metallic tree.
- To avoid electrocution, use colored spotlights above or beside the tree. Attached faulty lights can cause the tree to become electrically charged.
- Keep “bubbling” lights away from children. The bright colors and movement can tempt curious children to break the candle-shaped glass, causing cuts and injury, and drink the liquid, which contains hazardous chemical.
Always practice caution with open flames.
- Never use lit candles on a tree or near foliage, and keep them away from decorations and wrapping paper.
- Place non-flammable candle holders in low-traffic areas to avoid knocking them over.
In homes with small children, avoid sharp and breakable decorations. To prevent ingestion and choking, keep trimmings with small removeable parts out of reach and avoid decorations that resemble candy or food.
- Use non-combustible or flame-resistant materials.
- Wear gloves to avoid irritation to eyes and skin when decorating with spun glass “angel hair”.
- Avoid leaded materials and chose tinsel, artificial icicles, plastic, or other non-leaded metals.
Before lighting a fire remove all greens, boughs, paper, and additional decorations from the immediate area.
- Ensure flue is open and keep a screen in front of the fireplace when fire is burning.
- “Fire salts”, which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires, contain heavy metals capable of causing intense gastrointestinal irritation or vomiting if eaten. Keep away from children and pets.
It is best to construct paper decorations from materials labeled non-combustible or flame-resistant.
- Keep away from open flames and electrical connections.
- Remove all wrapping paper immediately after presents are opened.
- Flash fires occur when paper ignites suddenly and burns intensely. Do not burn paper in the fireplace.
General Rules for Holiday Safety
There is no substitute for common sense. Plan for safety by looking for and eliminating potential danger spots near candles, fireplaces, trees, and/or electrical connections.
- Keep matches, lighters, and candles away from children.
- Do not smoke near flammable decorations.
- Do not burn evergreens in the fireplace. Dry trees burn like tinder and flames can flare out of control, sending sparks flying into a room or up the chimney, igniting creosote deposits.
- Loose, flowing clothes- especially long, open sleeves- are a hazard around open flames.
- Have an emergency plan if a fire breaks out anywhere in the home. Ensure each family members knows what to do and PRACTICE THE PLAN.
Don’t let an emergency interrupt your holiday. Be careful, be prepared, and be vigilant when decorating and celebrating this season.