One of the best parts of the Christmas season is decorating the home and the tree. This activity can bring the family together as well as heighten the anticipation of the approaching day – a day of fun, festivities, food, and gift opening. Along with the festivities comes responsibility and care. You must use your common sense when decorating your home; both in the act itself as well as the materials that you choose.
Many of the everyday decorations that we use to adorn our homes come with potential hazards that can harm both pets and children, not to mention lead to devastating fires and the loss of one’s home. Following are some tips to keep in mind to ensure that your Christmas season remains merry and joyful:
Trees: Whether you are using a real or artificial tree this year, you need to pick out a stand that will be sturdy enough to hold up the tree. Many times, over excited children and pets can easily topple a tree, causing both damage to the home and possibly injuries to themselves. Also, make sure that the stand can easily accommodate the trunk, while at the same time offering easy access for watering (in the case of a real tree). Don’t place it near flammables or where it will be blocking an exit, in the case of an emergency.
When is comes to decoration the tree, never over load it with decorations, especially lights. Also, don’t use more than two strands of lights connected together and don’t overload electrical outlets. This can easily start a fire. Another cause of many electrical fires during the holiday season is faulty cords. If you are using cords from earlier years, inspect them for fraying or damages. This actually applies to new cords as well. There could be defects that occurred during their manufacture.
Never use candles or live flames on or near your tree. Again, this sets up the perfect scenario for a house fire. Countless numbers of families have found themselves homeless at Christmas time because of this.
Outdoor Decorations: The same rules apply when you are hanging outdoor light as with indoor lights. Ensure that you hang them where they will not sustain any water damage, which could result in a short, and ultimately a fire. Don’t overload the cords. In newer homes – 20 to 25 years old – the electrical systems in houses are equipped with a grounding feature that prevents them from shorting out.
** ALWAYS unplug your lights (inside and outside) every time you leave the house **
Other Decorations: Although there is less chance of starting an electrical fire with garland, tinsel, and wreaths, these decorations can still cause potential hazards. Anything containing small parts should be kept out of reach of small children and pets, as they can pose a choking hazard. Be exceptionally careful with ornaments that come equipped with wire hangers. These can also be swallowed and can tear the throat, as well as cause stabbing injuries. Avoid the use of glass ornaments if you have small children. They can easily be broken, causing cuts and scratches.
Greenery is also something that you must use great care with. Many Christmas plants – such as poinsettias and mistletoe are poisonous. Always keep them out of the reach of children and pets.
All in all, holiday safety is common sense and a natural routine that should be practiced by everyone. Make sure that your family has an escape plan in the case of a fire. By following the above rules, you will be guaranteed to have a happy and joyful Christmas season.