Trim the trees, hang the lights. It’s time to put some holiday spirit into your home and yard. But before you haul out a Griswold-size tangle of lights or trim your tree with candy canes, read these safety tips for holiday decorating from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC)
- Use only UL-approved holiday lights that have been certified as safe for the intended use. Don’t string indoor lights outside!
- Check each string for damage: cracked sockets, loose connections, frayed wire.
- Don’t overload your extension cords. Limit the sets to no more than three standard-size sets per extension cord.
- When hanging lights outdoors, fasten them securely to prevent them from falling or being blown down.
- If you opt for the bubbling lights, string them out of the reach of children. Kids might not be able to resist the fascinating movement, and bubbling lights are made of glass and filled with a liquid that can be hazardous if ingested.
- When purchasing a real Christmas tree, make sure it’s fresh by gently pulling the needles along a branch. If the needles fall off in your hand, the tree is already drying out, and will become a hazard inside your home.
- Saw off about two inches from the bottom of the trunk before putting the tree in a stand. The freshly exposed wood will absorb the water better.
- A fresh tree absorbs more water in the first few days so be sure to check the water level in the tree stand and replenish it daily.
- A large tree may need more support than just the tree stand. To prevent a falling tree in your home, secure it to the ceiling or wall with wire or string.
- If you choose an artificial tree, be sure it is clearly marked “fire resistant” or “flame retardant”.
- Position the tree away from any heat source, like a radiator, fireplace, candles, or woodstove.
- Position breakable ornaments out of the reach of curious children and wagging tails.
- Avoid any decorations that resemble food or candy, because they might look too real to kids.
- Use only ornaments made from non-combustible and flame-retardant materials.
- Keep decorations away from electrical connects and flames.
- Make sure that tinsel and tinsel garland is made from plastic or lead-free material.
- Place candleholders out of the reach of children and where they are not at risk of tipping over.
- Keep candles a safe distance from anything flammable, including your tree, which can ignite quite easily.
- Use non-flammable candle holders.
- Never burn wrapping paper in a fireplace. The chemically-treated paper can ignite quickly and cause a flash fire.
- Fire salts may create pretty colors, but the heavy metals in them can be dangerous if ingested.
- Remove all greenery from trees and branches before burning them to avoid excess smoke.
- Make sure your fireplace has been inspected before burning anything in your fireplace or woodstove. A creosote building in your chimney could spark a fast-burning chimney fire.
Have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday!