For many people, decorating the Christmas tree is a favorite part of the holiday. The National Safety Council (with a few I added for good measure) offers some safety tips to make sure a mishap doesn’t spoil your holiday season.
- A real tree can add to the spirit of Christmas by filling your home with beauty and the scent of pine. But a real tree can also pose a fire hazard. Each year, more than 400 residential fires involve Christmas trees and tragically nearly 40 deaths and 100 injuries result from those fires.
- Try to select a fresh tree by looking for one that is green. The needles of pines and spruces should bend and not break and should be hard to pull off the branches. On fir species, a needle pulled from a fresh tree will snap when bent, much like a fresh carrot. Also, look for a trunk sticky with sap.
- Cut off about two inches of the trunk and put the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand. Keep the stand filled with water so the tree does not dry out quickly.
- Stand your tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Make sure the tree does not block foot traffic or doorways.
- If you use an artificial tree, choose one that tested and labeled as fire resistant. Artificial trees with built-in electrical systems should have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label.
- Only use indoor lights indoors (and outdoor lights only outdoors). Look for the UL label. Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Replace or repair any damaged light sets.
- Also, use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord. Extension cords should be placed against the wall to avoid tripping hazards, but do not run cords under rugs.
- Turn off all lights on trees and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house.
- Consider placing a fire extinguisher near the tree ‘just in case’.
- Always use the proper step stool or ladder to reach high places.
- Read labels before you use materials that come in jars, cans and spray cans.
- Never place lighted candles on a tree or near any flammable materials.
- Avoid placing breakable tree ornaments or ones with small, detachable parts on lower branches where small children or pets can reach them.
- Do not hang popcorn chains and candy canes on the tree when small children are present. They may think that other tree ornaments are also edible.
- Be cautious and considerate of your animals, too!
- Do not place tree in front of un-covered window. Keep curtains closed at night so that ‘outside eyes’ cannot spy the loot under your tree
- Be certain that wrapping paper and ribbons are not entangled with extension cords
- On Christmas morning, have several trash receptacles ready for the wrapping paper and ribbons.
- Be cautious about burning wrapping paper in the fire place. Much of it contains components that can spark, ‘explode’ or produce noxious fumes. The better bet is to place it all in the recycling bin.
- Be careful to protect pets from ribbons and paper. The papers can contain toxic substances for the little critters and they can become entangled (even choked) by loose ribbons.
- For re-usable wrapping, consider making or purchasing simple fabric bags that can be re-used year after year.
- Keep all of your receipts not only for returns but to protect yourself against credit card fraud. Carefully scrutinize your January credit card statement.
- Also remember that chocolate and other common Christmas treats are, in general, not good for your pets.
Enjoy a safe, happy, and well-prepared holiday season!