The holiday season is upon us and with all of the hustle and bustle, we may forget or overlook the dangers associated with all of the festivities. People are at a greater risk during the holidays when they are displaying decorations, cooking holiday meals, or using heat sources. Whether we are decorating or entertaining, it is important to keep in mind certain safety tips and precautions that can prevent property damage or injury. Small things like forgetting to water your Christmas tree can lead to major and devastating disasters. We have rounded up all of the aspects of holiday safety for you to educate yourself and protect your family. Learning about these last minute holiday safety tips now will allow you to maintain safety throughout the holidays.
For those of you that prefer a real Christmas tree as opposed to an artificial one, note that there is a higher risk of fire associated with real trees. Although Christmas tree fires are not too common, if they do occur they are most likely to be serious.
- When looking for a tree, select a tree that has fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
- Cut at least two inches off the base of the trunk before placing the tree in the stand. This will allow for the tree to consume water more efficiently.
- Keep the tree at least three feet away from any heat sources such as fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
- Place the tree in a location that does not block an exit. If a fire were to start, you will need an accessible exit to vacate the home.
- Water the tree on a daily basis.
- Do not over-light your tree. Read the manufacturer’s instruction to see how many strings of lights can be connected.
- Dried out Christmas trees are a fire danger and should not be kept once they begin to turn brown or lose a lot of needles. Once Christmas is over and you are ready to dispose of your tree, do not place the tree in a garage or against the house.
A candle can pose a risk because it is an open flame that can ignite anything that can burn easily and quickly. The United States Fire Administration states that candles start two out of five decoration structure fires. People are more likely to light candles around the holidays to add to their holiday decor. The top three days for candle fires are Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
- Never leave a burning candle alone. Blow out candles when you leave the room.
- Avoid using candles in a bedroom where people may fall asleep.
- Use caution when lighting candles. Keep your hair and loose clothing away from the flame.
- Keep candles 12 inches away from things that can burn.
- Place candles in a sturdy candleholder that will not tip over.
- Never use a candle if oxygen is used in a home.
- Never leave children alone in a room with a burning candle.
- Consider using battery-operated candles that are flameless but still give the look of a real candle.
Fireplaces and Space Heaters
The time is here when temperatures drop and we begin to use equipment that help keep us warm. Heating equipment is involved in 1 out of every 7 reported home fires. Many enjoy the warmth and coziness of a fireplace and tend to use them more during the holidays.
- Always use a metal or heat-tempered glass screen when using your fireplace.
- Make sure your space heater has an automatic shut-off.
- Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from any heat source such a fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators, and space heaters.
- Plug only one heat-producing appliance into an electrical outlet at a time.
- Heat-producing appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet, not an extension cord.
- Have your fireplaces cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional every year.
- After using your fireplace, dispose of cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep it at least ten feet away from your home or other buildings.
Decorating our homes help put us in the holiday spirit; however, it is crucial to use caution not only when decoration but maintaining and paying close attention to those decorations in and around your house. From 2011-2015, Firefighters responded to approximately 840 home fires a year that began as a result of holiday decorations.
- If hanging stockings from a mantle, keep them at a safe distance away from a burning fireplace.
- When decorating the tree, use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory.
- Do not use lit candles to decorate the tree.
- Always turn off the lights on the Christmas tree before leaving the home or going to bed.
- Check to make sure the lights you are using to decorate outside and exterior lights.
- Replace any strings of lights that are work or have broken cords. Make sure that the bulb connections are tightened.
- If hanging lights from a high point that requires the use of a ladder, always have an additional person to hold the ladder while you are on it
- Hang breakable ornaments high on the tree out of reach of children or animals to avoid shattered glass.
- Use a step stool instead of standing on furniture to hang decorations.
The holidays are a time to gather and eat meals together in celebration. Many meals will be prepared over the holidays so it is important to consider not just cooking safety but making healthy choices as well. Temptation is present with the wide array of holidays treats; however, indulging in all of them is not beneficial for your overall health. Additionally, when making these dishes, avoid food-related illnesses by practicing safe food handling and preparation.
- Only allow yourself one or two of your favorite holiday treats to consume.
- Choose more vegetables and fruit from the food options.
- Find ways to stay active over the holidays and encourage activity with children and teens.
- Eat in moderation and dont use the holidays as an excuse to overeat.
- Always wash hands before handling food.
- Keep kitchen surfaces clean and consistently wiped down.
- Prevent cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs away from ready-to-eat foods and eating surfaces.
- Ensure foods are cooked to the proper temperature to prevent consuming raw meat.
- Refrigerate leftover foods promptly. Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.
Sources: Facts about Home Holiday Fires, Winter Holiday Fires by the Numbers
Picture Credit: Memoirs Photography, Pixabay