As we near the Christmas Season, the feelings of joy come to mind. It is a time of celebration and tradition well spent with our loved ones. While many of us get into the spirit of festivities, many often don’t take into consideration the precautions required to insure a safe and festive Holiday.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) there were 14,000 injuries related to holiday decorations in December 2015. The winter season poses a great risk of exposure to fires hazards, electrical accidents, and falling injuries. To ensure a safe and happy holiday season with your family and friends, here are some tips to keep in mind when decorating:
· Don’t drink and decorate: there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a bit of eggnog during the Holidays, but don’t get carried away and overindulge. Especially if you plan to climb a ladder. You want to avoid any ER visits due to sprains or broken bones.
· Keep trees away from heat sources: Whether you prefer an artificial tree or live tree, make sure to keep it away from any heat source. To avoid a risk of fire, keep your trees as far away from any fireplaces, candles, or heaters. Live trees are especially highly flammable due to the needles and sap. It is recommended to keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
· Avoid overloading electrical outlets and inspect your Christmas lights before usage: Besides the risk of shutting down the electrical grid service in your neighborhood, overloading electrical outlets creates a fire hazard. It is recommended not to load a circuit over 80 percent. Follow the instructions on the packaging of your lights to avoid exceeding the recommended amount when linking them together. Using lights that have been tested by nationally- recognized laboratories such as Underwriters Laboratories is recommended. Look for UL’s red holographic label which signifies that the light decorations meet safety requirements. UL’s red holographic label signifies it is safe for indoor/outdoor usage, while the green holographic label signifies the lights are safe for indoor use only. Make sure to check any lights for damages such as cracks, damaged sockets, frayed or bare wires. To avoid the risk of electrical shock or fire when securing lights, avoid stapling, or nailing though electrical wires.
· Keep burning candles within sight: Keep candles away from any flammable materials, decorations, or furniture. Make sure candles are kept on a stable, heat-resistant surface. It is preferable to keep candles away from where kids and pets can’t reach them, or knock them over. Extinguish all candles before going to bed or if leaving the room unintended for an extended period of time.
· Keep away from power lines and use caution when using extension cords: When choosing to decorate outside your home, make sure to keep yourself and your equipment at least 10 feet away from power lines to avoid electrocution. Make sure to keep all electrical cords away from water and insure that they are safe to use for outdoor purposes. Do not overload extension cords and check for any damages to wires. Use ground fault circuit interrupters in damp environments.
· Inspect your ladder before using it: It is recommended to use a wooden or fiberglass ladder when putting up electrical decor and lights, as metal conducts electricity. It is also recommended you inspect your ladder for any broken rungs and that you do not exceed the weight limit. Make sure you set your ladder up properly by placing it on solid, even ground. Use the 4 to 1 rule: for every four feet of height you climb, move the base one foot away from the wall. It is also beneficial to have someone hold the ladder steady for you.
· Turn off all lights and electrical decorations before going to bed or leaving the house: It is estimated that more than 20 percent of Americans do not turn off electrical Christmas decorations before going to sleep or leaving the house. The CPSC doesn’t recommend leaving your Christmas lights on overnight. To prevent the risk of a fire and electrical hazard, it is recommended you turn of all decorations before going to sleep or leaving the house. Consider investing in a Christmas light timer, to make sure your lights are getting turned off at a reasonable hour every night. In turn it will help save you some money on your electric bill and that’s always something to help with that Christmas Cheer!