Holiday Decorating Safety!

Just a few tips to help you celebrate the holiday season as smoothly as possible!
The four main trouble areas people run into are trees, lights, fireplaces and decorations.

Trees:

When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” Although this label does not mean the tree won’t catch fire, it does indicate that the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.

When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and do not break when bent between your fingers. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.

When setting up your tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the tree stand filled with water. Make sure the tree is placed out of the way of high traffic areas, and does not block doorways.

Lights:

Whether they be indoors or outside, only use lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, which indicates conformance with safety standards. Only use lights that have fused plugs.

Check each set of lights, new and old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections; throw out damaged sets. Always replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the appropriate wattage bulbs.

Never use more than three standard size sets of lights per single extension cord. Make sure that the extension cord is rated for the intended use.

Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.

Before using lights outdoors, check the labels to be sure they are suitable for outdoor use.

Stay away from power or feeder lines leading from utility poles into older homes.

Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks. You can also run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores).

Turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

Use caution when removing outdoor holiday lights. Never pull or tug on lights– they could unravel and inadvertently wrap around power lines.

Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI’s). Portable outdoor GFCI’S can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCI’s can be permanently installed to household circuits by a qualified electrician.

Decorations:

Use only non-combustible or flame resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or non-leaded metals. Leaded metals are hazardous if ingested by children.

Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use  non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.

In homes with small children or pets, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Keep trimmings with small, removable parts out of  reach to avoid a child swallowing or inhaling the small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may be tempting to eat.

Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass, also known as “angel hair.”

Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.

Fireplaces:

Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep these away from children and pets.

Do not burn wrapping paper in the fireplace; it burns QUICK and HOT! A flash fire may result.

 

Source | Holiday Decoration Safety Tips from CPSC

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