The festive spirit is in the air, and there’s no better way to join in on the holiday cheer than to get creative with your home decorations. However, stringing those Christmas lights, hanging that decor, and kindling the menorah should always be done with safety in mind. Here are tips to do just that.
Handle Electrical Devices With Extra Care
According to the National Fire Protection Association, approximately 780 home fires every year were due to decorations and an additional 160 fires started with Christmas trees. Risk of these types of fires can be reduced with the proper handling of decorative electrical devices. To increase safety in your home during the holidays, make sure to keep these precautions in mind:
- Use UL (Underwriter Laboratory)-approved lights to ensure quality and safety. Lights that are UL-inspected should bear red tags, which indicate safe indoor/outdoor usage and green tags for strictly indoor use.
- Always check the lights for frayed cords or damaged bulbs before using it.
- Read labels and follow instructions from the manufacturer when it comes to adhering to the proper wattage levels.
- Use heavy-duty extension cords appropriately. Don’t overload extension cords and if you’re going to use them outdoors, buy those that are tagged for outdoor use.
- Make sure the electrical cords and wires are placed in such a way that people don’t trip over it.
- Position your lights in such a way that they don’t touch flammable materials like drapes, carpets, or wooden furniture.
- Always turn off the lights before going to sleep or before going out of the house.
- Use clips to attach the electrical cords of the lights. Don’t use nails or tacks to fasten the cords in place.
- Plug outdoor lights and other decorative electronics into circuits protected with ground fault circuit interrupters to reduce the risk of electric shock.
Keep Candles in a Secure Place
Whether you’re lighting a menorah for your Hanukkah celebration or you just want the flickering light to add warmth to your space, it’s important to remember that even the subtlest of candlelight is a potential fire hazard. So if possible, use battery-operated candles instead of the real one to do away with the dangers of an open flame. But if you do decide to use traditional ones, follow these safety measures:
- Secure the candles in a flat, heat-resistant surface with a sturdy base to make sure they don’t easily tip over or get knocked off.
- Place the candles away from flammable materials. Make sure that your drapes will never come in contact with the open flame even when it gets windy.
- Never leave a kindled candle unattended. Put it off before you go to bed or when you go out of the house.
- Put out candles with less than two inches of wax left.
Think of Kids and Pets
When you have pets and kids in the house, you need to go the extra mile in making sure that all your holiday decorations don’t pose a hazard to them. This means that you have to be more discriminating in choosing the right decors. These guidelines should help you choose pet- and kid-friendly ornaments:
- Avoid using food-looking decors. Kids might mistake them for the real thing and may try to eat them.
- Don’t use pointed or sharp ornaments. Kids or pets may try to play with them and they could get hurt in the process.
- Whenever possible, use unbreakable ornaments made of non-toxic materials. That’s one less worry when your kids or your pooch go on hyperactive mode.
- Don’t use potentially poisonous plants. Some widely used decorative plants like poinsettias, mistletoe berries, holly berry, and Jerusalem cherry may look seemingly harmless. But in reality, they are not safe around the house especially when you have children who could ingest these.
- Keep lights, candles, electrical cords, and breakable ornaments out of the reach of children and pets. Don’t use small decors if possible as they present a choking hazard to small kids.
- Use safety caps in all your electrical outlets to prevent any injury.
Mind those Ladders
Fires are not just the only risk you face when decorating. Injuries caused by falls are also grave concerns too. And that’s why it’s imperative that when you’re putting up those decorations and stringing lights in areas well beyond your reach, you need to use a proper ladder. In addition, have someone keep the base secure and assist you with things you will need. Chairs and other furniture do not make good alternatives for a ladder.
Fiberglass or wooden ladders are the best tools for this purpose especially if you’re handling lights and other electrical stuff. Ladders made of metals are good conductors of electricity and that’s why they’re not safe to use in this case.
When not in use, store your ladder in its proper place. Don’t leave it propped up against walls with electrical decors or near overhead power lines.
Choose the Right Tree
For your Christmas tree, you have the option of going for a real live tree or an artificial one. If you decide to go for a real tree, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Go for the freshest tree you can find. Fresh trees are not as flammable as dried out ones. To gauge its freshness, check its bottom to see if it’s still sticky with resin. Fresh trees also have needles that don’t easily break or don’t easily fall off of the branches when moved.
- Keep the tree away from heat sources like candles and fireplace as these can dry out the tree faster increasing its flammability with each passing time. Air vents and radiators should also be avoided for the same reason.
- Make sure the tree stand is always filled with water to keep it fresh for a long period of time, making it less of a fire hazard.
If you’re going to use an artificial tree, buy a fire-resistant one. They’re less prone to catching fire; but still, you need to exercise caution especially when you’re going to fill it with lights.
Secure the Inflatables
Make sure that only passerby and guests get blown away with your decorations, not those cute inflatables in front of your house. To help ensure this, keep those inflatables securely in place by following the manufacturer’s manual. Also, it's better to turn off the fan blowers when it gets too windy outside and when no one’s home for long periods.
Practice Fireplace Safety
Nothing screams “happy holidays” any better than a well-decorated mantel. However, before you get too engrossed with decorating your mantel, always remember that as good as it may look, anything dangling above the fireplace automatically becomes a fire hazard. That’s why it’s important to use a fireplace screen if you plan on hanging those stockings. And as an additional measure, spray those decors with a fire retardant, which will make them fire-resistant.
As you go all out to make your home ready for the coming holidays, don’t forget to enjoy the process, get the entire family involved with the planning and decorating. And most importantly, keep safety a priority by taking these extra precautions when decorating for the holidays.