Tips For a Safe Holiday Season

Before crawling up on the roof to string the Christmas lights, you need to know that every year hospital emergency rooms treat hundreds of people for injuries such as falls, cuts and shocks related to holiday lights, decorations and Christmas trees. In addition candles start hundreds of fires over the holiday season. Always keep burning candles within sight and always put out lit candles before leaving a room or going to bed.

Picking the tree:
When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” Although this label does not mean the tree won’t catch fire, it indicates the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly. When purchasing a live tree check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and do not break when bent between your fingers.

The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground the tree should not lose many needles.

When setting up a tree at home place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Be sure to keep the stand filled with water. Be sure to place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.

Indoors and outdoor lights should be CSA tested and have fused plugs. If your lights have any of the following, they should not be used; loose connections, broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires. Always replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs. Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord and make sure the extension cord is rated for the intended use. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could receive a shock.

Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. Stay away from power or feeder lines leading from utility poles into older homes. Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples or run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores) to hold strings in place. Turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house, they could short out and start a fire. Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters. When removing outdoor holiday lights, never pull or tug on lights.

Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to decorate a tree, never use lighted candles. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or non-leaded metals. In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces. Also avoid using decorations that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them. Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass “angel hair.” Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.

Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children and pets. Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

Have a safe and happy holiday season.
Merry Christmas from our house to yours.