Christmas can be a magical time for young and old alike. The glow of candle light, the smell of a fresh tree, the garlands, and the cozy fire in the fireplace are all symbols of Christmas joy. It is good to stop and remember that while holiday decorations are beautiful, they can be the cause of safety hazards if not used properly. Below are some tips that will keep you and your loved ones safe.
If you decide to purchase an artificial tree, only purchase one with a label that says “Fire Resistant”. Although any artificial tree can catch on fire, a “Fire Resistant” tree will not catch fire easily, and will extinguish quickly.
If you choose a fresh tree, select one with green needles that bend without breaking. The base of the tree should feel sticky with resin to the touch. When you arrive at home, cut 2-3 inches off of the trunk so that fresh wood is exposed. This will make your tree better able to absorb water. Make sure to mount the tree in a sturdy stand, away from radiators, fire places, and other heat sources. At all times, keep the tree stand full of water to prevent the tree from drying out.
Use only lights that have the “UL” label, indicating conformance with accepted safety standards. Check all lights for frayed wires or cracked sockets. Outdoor lights should be plugged into circuits with ground fault interrupters to negate the risk of shock. Outdoor lights should also be weatherproof, and you should not use more than 3 sets of lights per extension cord. Turn all lights off (on indoor and outdoor decorations) prior to leaving the house or going to bed.
Never use lighted candles in evergreen displays or on fresh Christmas trees. Candles need to stand in nonflammable holders, and they need to be placed in a secure location where they cannot be knocked over, and cannot be reached by young children.
Before lighting a fire in the fireplace, remove all papers, greens, boughs, and other decorations from the surrounding areas. Never burn wrapping paper in the fireplace, as wrappings can ignite quickly and burn intensely. Make sure the flue is in the open position before striking a match.
Make safety a priority when selecting gifts, especially where children are concerned. Recent recalls of products containing lead paint and other defects are a reminder to make careful selections. Avoid toy chests without safety hinges, and remember that toys with long strings or cords are not appropriate for babies or young children. Don’t ever hang toys with cords, loops, or ribbons in playpens or cribs, where a child could become entangled. Discard all plastic wrappings from toys immediately after opening, so that they do not become playthings. In addition to these rules, the Consumer Product Safety Commission offers these and other guidelines regarding toy safety.