Decorations, candles, Yule logs, and Christmas trees all contribute to the season’s splendor, but they can also present significant safety risks. Learn how to prevent heating, electrical, and fire accidents and injuries with our holiday safety tips.
Even if you aren’t hosting a holiday get-together this year, it’s still a good idea to go over this list and make sure the inside and outside of your home is as safe as possible.
- Create a well-lit home. Even if you aren’t going all out with Christmas lights this year, check for proper lighting by replacing all burnt-out bulbs and fixing broken fixtures, especially around your entrances and doorways. Consider adding pathway lights or string lights if your walkways aren’t well-lit. Make sure guests and emergency personnel can easily see your address and safely navigate to your home.
- Remove tripping hazards. Inspect your pathways and entrances to make sure there are no tripping hazards, such as children’s toys, yard equipment, ice, rocks, branches, wet leaves, and other debris. Rake and sweep your porch, stairs, and walkways. Secure extension cords away from traffic areas and make sure any immoveable hazards, such as roots and trunks, are clearly marked or cordoned off.
- Avoid flames. Use battery-operated and LED candles rather than real ones, especially if you plan on putting them in the window. If you do use real candles, make sure there is always adult supervision in the room.
- Be mindful of food allergies. Remember that many of your guests may have food allergies and dietary restrictions. Check with your guests first before making food that they may not be able to enjoy.
Lighting & Ladder Safety
- If you are working near a door or entryway, barricade the area and post a large notice that you are working nearby.
- Always have a partner working with you when hanging Christmas lights or decorations from a ladder or roof.
- Do not carry any objects that could cause you to fall or lose balance.
- For self-supporting ladders and step stools, always use the metal spreader/locking device to hold the front and back sections in a locked and open position while in use.
- Always wear appropriate footwear (no sandals, bare feet, or untied laces).
- Ensure the ground is free of all hazards, including nails and other sharp objects.
- If using an extension ladder, make sure the ladder is one foot away from the wall for every 4 feet it is tall (the working height of the ladder).
- Follow the three-point rule by always having two feet and one hand firmly on the ladder at all times.
- Never use ladders outdoors when it is dark out or there are heavy winds, wet conditions, or other bad weather.
- Do not lean one way or the other. Always stay centered between the rails.
- NEVER overreach to hang lights or decorations. Always move the ladder.
- Before making any moves on the ladder, think about what you want to do and move slowly. Don’t make any sudden movements or jerks, such as swatting an insect.
- If you are feeling dizzy, nauseous, or experiencing blurred vision, slowly descend the ladder. Either wait until you feel better or get somebody else to complete the task for you.
Christmas Tree Safety
While Christmas tree fires are not as common as they used to be (when people used candles instead of electric lights), they can still happen. And when they do, they can be absolutely devastating.
- Surprisingly, some people still use real candles on their Christmas tree. Don’t do this!
- Pick a fresh tree, with needles that do not fall out easily.
- Cut 2” off the base of the tree before putting it in the stand.
- Keep your tree at least 3 feet away from any heat source, such as space heaters, radiators, heat vents, and fireplaces.
- Keep the tree away from doorways and other entrances/exits.
- Add water to the tree stand every day. Check the water level every morning.
- Inspect your Christmas lights for damage, such as frayed cords and exposed wiring. Recycle the lights at your local home improvement store and replace them with LED Christmas lights that contain a label from an independent testing laboratory, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratory). LED lights don’t emit any heat and are much more durable and longer-lasting.
- Remember to turn off your Christmas lights before leaving home or going to bed.
According to superstition, it’s bad luck to keep your tree up after January 5th (12th Day of Christmas). January 6th is the Day of Epiphany (when the Magi visited baby Jesus). Don’t wait any later than the 6th to take down your tree. This is one superstition we recommend following. After January 6th, your tree will start to lose a lot of its moisture and become a real fire hazard.
Remember, never store your Christmas tree in your home or garage. Learn how to get rid of your Christmas tree properly below.
How to get rid of your Christmas tree:
- Make sure you remove all of the decorations first.
- Never store your dried-out Christmas tree in the basement, garage, or next to the home. This is a huge fire danger.
- Find your nearest Christmas tree recycling location. Some places will take your tree away for you.
- Many municipalities have a specific tree recycling collection period during the first two weeks of January. Make sure you check your local community’ recycling program ahead to confirm.
- Christmas Lighting & Ladder Safety
- Outdoor Lighting Guide
- Exterior Home Maintenance Checklist for Winter
- Extension Cord Safety
- How to Keep Your Home Safe & Secure
- Smoke & CO Alarm Safety
- How to Prepare for Power Outages
Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season!
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