Follow these tips to keep your family’s holiday season a safe one:
Christmas tree safety
- An artificial tree that is flame resistant provides the safest option for your family.
- If you use a real tree, try to pick one that is as fresh as possible. Keep it well-watered by checking the water in the base daily to keep it from drying out. Also try to limit the amount of time it spends in your house, so remove it as soon after Christmas as possible. Christmas trees tend to pose the biggest fire hazard when families keep them around after Christmas, as they’ve had ample time to dry out. It’s like keeping a big pile of kindling in your living room. Tests conducted by the U.S. Fire Administration show it takes as little as 8 or 9 seconds for a dry tree to become completely emblazed in a fire when provided with an ignition source.
- Never place Christmas trees near a heat source such as a fireplace, candles or space heater.
- Use a large tree base to reduce the risk of it tipping or falling over.
- Check over all lights you will put over the tree very carefully for damaged bulbs or frayed cords. Do not use them if either are present. Your Christmas tree is a fire risk on its own, you don’t want to decorate it with a spark.
Safe holiday decoration tips
Emergency rooms treat nearly 13,000 people each year for injuries related to holiday decorating, according to the Home Safety Council. Once up, holiday decorations can continue to pose a danger to the children in the house. Here are some tips to reduce the risk:
- Many Christmas tree ornaments are choking hazards for younger kids. Since they are not considered a toy, they do not have to meet child safety guidelines. Yet they still attract children. So choose your ornaments wisely, and remember that if it has a piece that could break off and fit through a toilet paper tube, it’s a choking hazard.
- Hang any ornaments with sharp edges out of the reach of children.
- Ensure that all outdoor lights you use are clearly marked for outdoor use.
- Because of their year-after-year use and the often tenuous conditions under which they are stored, Christmas lights have a tendency to develop cracked casings, frayed wires or other flaws. So be sure to check all Christmas lights for frayed wires before hanging them. Isolated defects can sometimes be fixed with electrical tape, but get a new set if they are too worn down. It’s not worth the risk.
- Be mindful of how you string Christmas lights: Do not do so in a way that could pose a strangulation risk.
Christmas & Hanukah Fire Safety Tips
- Check your smoke alarms: The batteries in your smoke alarms should be checked twice a year, once around the fourth of July and once around the winter holidays. So with all the increased fire risks, check them now to ensure they are working in an emergency.
- Candle safety: Be especially cautious with Menorahs and candles. Open flames are a significant fire hazard, on par with smoking as far as their contribution toward house fires. Candles are responsible for some 18,000 home fires in an average year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. If you burn Menorahs or candles or even incense, use extreme caution in where you place them. Be sure to blow out candles every time you leave the room, and never leave a candle lit throughout the night. Be aware that pets can knock over a candle even when you’ve left it in an otherwise safe place.
- Clean your chimney: Every time you use your fireplace, gunk can build up in the chimney. If it isn’t cleaned periodically, this gunk builds into a charcoal like substance that can be lit by a spark. Chimneys were built for handling smoke, not containing fire. So as this buildup grows, it sometimes smoldering when you use your fireplace, and can eat through the metal and create a house fire that starts through the chimney. So if you haven’t had your chimney cleaned in a while, now would be a good time to do so.
Other holiday safety tips:
- Disposing of post-holiday boxes can attract thieves, who might be tempted by seeing all the new electronics or other goodies you just added to your home. So don’t just throw the boxes to the curb – break them down and take them to a cardboard recycling center so that it’s not a temptation to burglars.
- Be aware that free song jingles tend to be tainted with the most spyware and malware. So to keep your computer free of viruses, you might want to avoid downloading such songs unless you’re sure about the site.
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It may seem like we’re being excessively anal with these guidelines, but remember that each and every one of these suggestions have come forth because kids have been seriously injured or killed by such things in the past. In fact, most of these safety issues single-handedly kill more kids than are murdered by registered sex offenders, which parents spend a disproportionate amount of time worrying about. So don’t over worry, just be aware. A little bit of safety prevention can go a long way.