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best practices for holiday decorating safety




  • Fake “candles” that run on batteries are the safest best to give the warm glow without the danger of a live flame. If you decide to use real candles for decoration, though, ensure they are in stable holders where they can’t be reached or knocked over by children and pets.
  • Don’t forget how easily real candles can be knocked over by a pet, guest, or child, so keep a working fire extinguisher nearby and ready to use.
  • Never leave candles unattended, and don’t leave the house with candles lit. Be sure to extinguish any flames before going to sleep.
  • Burn candles on a non-flammable surface such as a ceramic or glass plates.
  • If you are going to use candles, make sure they are away from fabric, trees or decorations that could catch fire.



Christmas trees

  • Keep it moist. Not only will it keep the tree looking “fresh” longer, but a dried-out tree can catch fire faster than one that has been thoroughly watered. Check the water level every day. Keep it away from heat sources. Live trees, especially dry ones, are highly flammable, so keep them well away from anything that could start them on fire.
  • Consider a fake tree, but keep it away from heat sources, and make sure it’s labeled “fire-resistant”.
  • Keep a working fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it!



Other Decorations

  • If using scissors for crafting decorations, make sure to follow proper scissor safety measures, supervise and help children using scissors (ideally having them use smaller scissors intended for children’s use), and put scissors away when finished. If a child is too young to use scissors, make sure they remain out of reach of that child when out.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets when plugging in décor, especially older decorations and those in older homes.
  • When it comes to setting up outdoor decorations, follow manufacturer instructions carefully.
  • Replace any lights with frayed wires, broken sockets, and loose connections. Turn off all lights when you go to bed and before leaving the house to avoid a short that could start an electrical fire.
  • It’s not true that poinsettia plants are deadly, but they DO contain substances that are irritating to people and pets, and their sap can cause an irritating skin rash. If you have a poinsettia plant as part of your decoration, make sure it’s well out of reach of children and pets.



Make Sure Your House Is Safe for Visitors

  • Make sure that driveways and walkways are clean and well maintained so visitors, whether holiday party guests, package delivery personnel, or Santa Claus, can move easily without worrying about tripping and falling.
  • Have adequate lighting to keep walkways safe, especially with the shorter days and harsh, wintry conditions that cut down on visibility.



And finally…

  • Don’t burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. Paper can catch fire quickly and can cause fire flare-ups. Instead, recycle or reuse wrapping paper.



*This article was originally published December 18, 2019

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