This is the third and final segment of our series titled Prevention, which explores the best practices for maintaining safety over the holidays. Here, we will look into the many safety concerns to consider involving seasonal decorations in the home. In decorating your home for the holidays all of the fun can lead to simply losing focus on at-home safety concerns. In the last two months of last year, almost 14,000 individuals arrived at hospitals that resulted from decoration-related accident injuries. The nature of the injuries varied from situations of slip-and-fall, severe cuts, burns and a host of others. The leading advocate in the U.S. for prevention of these incidents has long been the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Candles are a very common aspect of holiday décor and tradition, yet having open flames is dangerous. Candles are a source of approximately 15,000 fires in homes in the U.S. annually. Candle-related fires are believed to lead to roughly 150 deaths per year and potentially thousands of injuries. Roughly 30% of candle-based fires originate in bedrooms. When placing them in the home, it is critical to keep them out of the way of children and at locations where they will not be accidentally knocked into. Candles should never be placed near Christmas trees and should always be extinguished before going to sleep or when you will be moving throughout other areas of the home.
Live Christmas Trees
The placement of a Christmas tree can be very important for safety purposes. Trees should never be placed in close proximity to heat sources such as radiators, stoves or fireplaces. Keeping the tree moist is a key to fire prevention, as a dry tree is much more likely to ignite. When you bring the tree home, always make another two-inch cut to the trunk, this allows the tree to better absorb water. Check the water level regularly and refill as needed. After the holidays the tree should be removed, as by this time it is likely quite dry. Do not burn the tree in indoor fireplaces, as the needles tend to burn very quickly and are volatile. Denver has pre-assigned dates for collection of trees enabling you to properly dispose of them.
Artificial Christmas Trees
Choosing an artificial tree is an option that is likely safer and requires less clean-up. Be sure that the product bears a U.L. sticker and is fire-resistant. When installing the tree be sure to remove any excess dust that could potentially catch fire. Trees made of metal, such as the “retro” silver types, should not be decorated with electric lighting. Always use a properly secured stool or ladder when decorating the taller trees.
Some ornaments are potentially dangerous when small children are in the home. Ornaments that are breakable can fall, shatter and be sharp. Avoid placing them in the lower areas of the tree where children can reach them, as many like to grab and throw them. Check to be sure that the materials do not contain lead and trimmings should not have an appearance similar to food or candy that could be swallowed.
Holiday lights should have a sticker or label indicating they were tested by an independent laboratory and U.L approved. Consider LED lights that produce very little heat and are both shatter and shock-resistant. Avoid plugging in too many sets into the same power outlet and overloading them. Never attempt to repair damaged wiring, as it is better to discard and get new ones. Outdoor lights must be intended for exterior usage and should be tightly fastened to objects that are secure. When the U.L. mark is green, they are for indoor use only and those that are red may be used inside or outside.
Tips to Remember
- Make sure decorations do not block smoke detectors.
- Ask guests who smoke to do so outside.
- Keep all decorations away from candles, fireplaces, heaters etc.
- Never hang lights or ornaments with wiring by using nails or tacks that can fray the wires--instead use clips.
- All wiring should be placed so that they do not create a trip-and-fall hazard.
As always, we at the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and a great start to the Holiday Season!