Christmas trees. Twinkling lights. Candles. These favorite holiday decorations can turn into holiday hazards unless you take the necessary precautions to use them safely. Potential fires or electrical issues are the main risks as trees can dry out, lights may short out, and candles can tip over.
But fear not, here are some tips on decorating safely this holiday season:
- If you buy a “real” tree, make sure it’s fresh. Check the bottom of the trunk for resin – it should be sticky – and the needles should not come out easily from the branches – they should be firmly entrenched. Ask the nursery to make a fresh cut on the bottom of the trunk so the tree will absorb water once placed in the stand. Keep the stand full of water at all times.
- Never place a tree near a radiator, fireplace or other heat source. Never light candles in proximity of the tree or other greenery.
- Make sure the tree is securely placed in the stand and positioned out of doorways or heavily trafficked areas to avoid having it fall or be knocked over.
- If you buy an artificial tree, look for a “Flame Resistant” sticker.
- If you have pets or small children, decorate your tree with them in mind. You may need to place ornaments out of their reach unless you want your tree pulled over and onto a loved one!
- If you have strands of lights, discard any with frayed wires, broken or cracked sockets or loose connections. Promptly replace burned-out bulbs.
- Check your outlets and be sure to not overload with plugs – this can be a huge fire hazard.
- Never use more than 3 standard strands of lights per extension cord, or risk overloading. Make sure your extension cord is marked for intended use.
- If you use outdoor lights, be sure the extension cords are labeled “for outdoor use.”
- Never leave lights on indoors if you aren’t home or asleep. They could short out and cause a fire.
- Always keep lit candles within eye sight and extinguish when you leave the room.