Holiday Decorating is one of the best ways to get in the holiday spirit, however according to the National Safety Council, 15,000 injuries involving holiday decorating were seen in emergency rooms during the 2012 season. In addition the use of candles and fireplaces, combined with an increase in the amount of combustible, seasonal decorations present in many homes means more risk for fire. About 2,200 deaths were caused by fires, burns and other fire-related injuries in 2013, according to Injury Facts 2015, and 12% of home candle fires occur in December as reported by the National Fire Protection Association.
- Opt for strands of lights with fused plugs that can prevent sparks in the event of a short circuit.
- Ensure that you are using outdoor appropriate extension cords and lights.
- Check cords for cracks (particularly old lights) exposed wires and other flaws.
- Avoid letting the lights stay on overnight, as unattended lights pose a potential fire hazard. Set your lights on a timer so that they shut off automatically after bedtime and turn on again the next evening.
- Use the correct wattage when replacing bulbs. If you aren’t sure, consider a Christmas light tester and/or repair gun.
- Be careful with ladders. If the surface seems unsteady, don’t risk it—they’re just lights!
- Decorate the tree with kids in mind; move ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks toward the top
- Always use the proper step ladder; don’t stand on chairs or other furniture
- If you have a real tree, keep it well watered. Dry trees pose a greater fire hazard. To improve water absorption, cut at least two inches from the truck to expose fresh, more absorbent wood.
- Invest in artificial trees that are fire resistant.
- Ensure that the tree is properly secured on its stand and that the stand itself is in good condition. An unsteady tree can pose dangers to residents, guests, and pets.
- Vacuum frequently around your tree, whether it is real or artificial. All tree and décor are prone to a bit of shedding. Small materials may be hazardous to children and pets.
Candles and Fireplaces
- Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle
- Keep candles out of reach of children
- Make sure candles are on stable surfaces
- Don’t burn candles near trees, curtains or any other flammable items
- Don’t burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace
- Check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year
- “Angel hair” is made from spun glass, and it can irritate your eyes and skin; always wear gloves when handling it, or substitute non-flammable cotton
- When spraying artificial snow on windows or other surfaces, be sure to follow directions carefully; these sprays can irritate your lungs if inhaled
- Plants can spruce up your holiday decorating, but keep those that may be poisonous (including some Poinsettias) out of reach of children or pets; the national Poison Control Center can be reached at (800) 222-1222
- Make sure paths are clear indoors so older adults do not trip on wrapping paper, decorations, toys, etc.; NSC provides tips for older adults on slip, trip and fall protections