The holidays are a time to reconnect with family and friends, but they also can present seasonal safety hazards. Here are some tips to help you keep your home safe this holiday season.
Proven need for holiday safety
‘Tis the season to trim the tree, and watch the ladder step while you’re at it. The winter holiday season is traditionally a festive time of year filled with colorful decorations and family gatherings. But it is also too often a time of tragedy and loss.
Holiday safety tips to think about
Between 2011 and 2015, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) indicates an average of 200 home fires, per year, started with Christmas trees. Those fires resulted in six deaths, 16 injuries, and $14.8 million in property damage.
- Avoid electrical fires by purchasing lights from reputable retailers and only those approved by nationally recognized testing labs like US, Intertek or CSA.
- Inspect both indoor and outdoor lights for broken sockets, frayed wired and loose connections.
- Don’t overload outlets with too many electrical devices — this could cause a fire.
- Our Holiday Fire Safety Tips page has lots more information and Christmas safety tips.
Holiday decorating tips
People falling is a serious concern this time of year. Annually, hospital emergency rooms treat about 5,800 people who are injured from falls involving holiday decorations. And about 4,000 people are treated for injuries that are associated with extension cords. These injuries include contusions, lacerations, fractures or sprains as a result of tripping over the cords. Here are some tips to make your holiday decorating safer:
- Never use furniture as a ladder.
- Follow the 1-to-4 rule for extension ladders: for every four feet the ladder rises, move the base out one foot from the structure.
- Always keep three point of contact on the ladder: two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand.
A little fire safety can go a long way
Even with all those Christmas tree fires, cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires and injuries. Most fires occur on Thanksgiving, followed by the day before Thanksgiving and then Christmas day. Here are some holiday fire safety tips:
- Avoid using candles if possible. Consider using battery-operated ones.
- Mantels are beautiful when covered with stockings and greenery. But these items are flammable. If you use your fireplace frequently, consider hanging these decorations somewhere else.
- Be sure to check the Christmas tree — make sure it’s got plenty of water and it isn’t near heat sources.
- When cooking, pay close attention to what you’re doing and your surroundings.
- Keep a fire extinguisher close by.
- Be sure you have smoke detectors at least 10 feet from your stove, and test them monthly.
- Check out more kitchen safety tips.
Preventing poisoning, and a few other tips, during the holidays
The risk of poisoning also increases during the holiday period, resulting not only from common household items, but also carbon monoxide (CO). The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that the majority of CO deaths occur in the colder months of November through February. Here are more tips:
- Be sure your child doesn't have access to dangerous plants. Mistletoe, holly berries and Jerusalem cherries can be poisonous if consumed in large amounts.
- Those small button batteries found in toys, remotes and the like, are VERY dangerous so make sure children don’t swallow them.
- Tiny magnets are also dangerous if swallowed.