The holidays can be a fun time for you and your family, but if a child or other family member gets hurt then it can be a very hard time for everyone. To ensure that your holiday goes smoothly and everyone is safe follow these simple safety tips:
- When choosing a tree make sure artificial trees are flame retardant and fresh trees are not dry and keep them watered. A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree. A fresh tree is green, fresh needles are hard to pull from branches and do not break when bent between your fingers, and when the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles shows that tree is too dry. Also be sure to place your tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Heated rooms dry trees out rapidly, creating fire hazards. Before placing your fresh tree in it’s stand be sure to cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption.
- Trim away branches as necessary to set tree trunk in the base of a sturdy, waterholding stand with wide spread feet and keep the stand filled with water while the tree is indoors. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
- Use thin guy-wires to secure a large tree to walls or ceiling. These wires are almost invisible. Another hazard is artificial snow sprays which can irritate lungs if inhaled, so be sure to read labels carefully before spraying.
- Make sure your Indoor or outdoor lights have been tested for safety, these will have a label from an independent testing laboratory. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.
- Discard damaged sets or repair them before using. Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house, walls or other firm support to protect from wind damage. Do not place more than three standard-size sets of lights on a single extension cord. Be sure to turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave the house, because these lights could short out and start a fire.
- When using other decorations be sure to use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials and wear gloves while decorating with spun glass "angel hair" to avoid irritation to eyes and skin. Be sure to choose tinsel or artificial icicles or plastic or non-leaded metals, because lead-based materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
In homes with small children, take special care to:
- Avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable.
- Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children. Pieces could be swallowed or inhaled.
- Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food. A child could eat them!
- On Christmas Day remember to remove all wrapping papers from tree and fireplace areas immediately after presents are opened. Do not burn these papers in the fireplace, as a flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely
Other things to remember while celebrating are:
- Keep matches, lighters, and candles out of the reach of children.
- Avoid smoking near flammable decorations.
- Make an emergency plan to use if a fire breaks out anywhere in the home. See that each family member knows what to do. PRACTICE THE PLAN!
- Avoid wearing loose flowing clothes - particularly long, open sleeves – near open flames - such as those of a fireplace, stove, or candlelit table.
- Never burn candles near evergreens. Burning evergreens in the fireplace can also be hazardous. When dry, greens burn like tinder. Flames can flare out of control, and send sparks flying into a room, or up the chimney to ignite creosote deposits.
- Plan for safety. Remember, there is no substitute for common sense. Look for and eliminate potential danger spots near candles, fireplaces, trees, and/or electrical connections – before accidents happen.
- Most importantly enjoy a safe holiday season when basic safety precautions are taken.