Your Life

Decorate Safely for the Holidays

As the holiday season gets into full swing, many families decorate to spread some cheer and make their homes and neighborhoods more festive. While holiday decorations can be fun and beautiful, they can also present fire hazards. To keep your home and family safe throughout this holiday season, consider the following tips.

  • Only buy electrical decorations that have an Underwriter Laboratories rating on the label, which indicates they have been tested for safe use.
  • Follow all installation and usage instructions for lighting decorations to ensure you are not increasing your chance of starting a fire.
  • Inspect new and used lights before using them and discard any with cracks, exposed wires, or loose connections.
  • Do not connect more than three sets of lights to an extension cord at one time.
  • Plug outside lighting into a ground fault circuit interrupting outlet, as this will safeguard the outlet from any interaction with water.
  • Do not secure outside lights with staples or nails.
  • Avoid placing indoor extension cords under carpeting, rugs, and furniture.
  • Unplug lighting decorations before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • If you set up a Christmas tree, place the tree in a sturdy stand at least three feet away from heat sources.
  • If you blow a fuse while decorating, discard the faulty light string or decoration and replace the blown fuse. If the fuse blows again, contact an electrician to investigate the problem further. This might indicate a more serious wiring problem in your home.

On average, each year U.S. fire departments respond to 150 home fires that start with Christmas trees and 793 home structure fires that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees.

Caring for Your Live Christmas Tree

As live Christmas trees dry out, they can become highly flammable. Here are a few tips to keep your tree fresh during the holidays:

  • Maintain the freshness of your tree by displaying it in a traditional reservoir type stand. As a general rule, the stand should provide one quart of water per inch of stem diameter.
  • Check the stand daily to ensure the water level is above the base of the tree. If the water level drops below the fresh cut of the stem, the stem will reseal and will not be able to absorb more water.
  • Give your tree plain tap water. Commercial additives and home concoctions are not necessary and may inhibit the tree’s ability to retain moisture.
  • Display your tree away from major sources of heat, including fireplaces, heat vents, and direct sunlight.

Click here for more tips on caring for a live Christmas tree.

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