How to Stay Safe This Holiday Season

fresh-dryDid you know more home fires occur during the holiday season than any other time of the year? Between the decorations, the food and the crowded homes, many people tend to relax on their fire safety precautions. Now, we’re not saying you can’t have fun this year – we just want you to stay safe!

Holiday Safety Tips – Trees

If you’re going to put up an artificial tree, make sure it’s fire resistant. When you buy your tree, verify it has a UL seal or another mark labeling it as fire resistant.

If you prefer real trees, make sure you choose a fresh tree – these will last longer and pose less of a fire hazard than a dry tree. Consider these points when checking for freshness:

  • Fresh trees are dark green
  • Fresh needles are hard to pull from branches
  • Fresh needles won’t break when bent between your fingers
  • The trunk of a fresh tree will be sticky with sap
  • If the tree is bounced on the ground and a shower of needles rains down, the tree is too dry

Keep the tree away from heat sources, including radiators, fireplaces or other heat sources. Try to keep the room your tree is in well-humidified – a heated room will rapidly dry out your tree, creating a fire hazard.

For best water absorption, cut about two inches off the trunk to expose fresh wood. Trim the branches as necessary and set the tree trunk in the base of a sturdy, water-filled stand with wide spread feet. Keep the stand filled with water while the tree is indoors.

Set up your tree out of the way of traffic and don’t block any doorways. If necessary, use thin guy-wires to secure a large tree to walls or the ceiling.

Holiday Safety Tips – “Snow”

  • Remember artificial snow can irritate the lungs if inhaled. Read container labels and follow all instructions.

Holiday Safety Tips – Lights

  • Make sure all lights, indoor or outdoor, have been tested for safety. You can identify these by the label from an independent testing laboratory (UL or another).
  • Before you hang any lights, check the string for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Discard damaged sets or repair them before using.
  • Securely fasten outdoor lights to trees, walls or other firm supports to protect them from wind.
  • Never use more than three standard-sized sets of lights per extension cord.
  • Turn off lights on trees and other decorations before you leave the house or go to bed. Unattended lights could short and start a fire.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree – faulty lights can cause the tree to become charged with electricity, and any person who touches the tree can be electrocuted!

Holiday Safety Tips – Candles

  • Never use real, lit candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
  • Always use nonflammable candle holders.
  • Keep lit candles away from flammable decorations and wrapping paper.
  • Set candles securely in places where they cannot be knocked or blown over.

Holiday Safety Tips – Trimmings

  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials.
  • In homes with small children, try to avoid breakable ornaments as well as ornaments with small, removable parts that could cause a choking hazard.

Holiday Safety Tips – General

  • Keep matches, lighters and candles out of reach of small children.
  • Avoid smoking near flammable decorations.
  • Have an emergency plan in case a fire breaks out anywhere in your home and make sure you practice it so everyone in your family knows exactly what to do.
  • If necessary, call a¬†residential electrician to inspect your Christmas lights before you put them up.

Courtesy of