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Holiday Safety Tips

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or New Year's!  The holidays are a special, happy time of year.  However, just like any other time, there is always a potential for fires and accidents--maybe even more so because of increased people traffic, decorations, baking, etc.  Common sense can keep your celebration from turning ugly.  


  • ARTIFICIAL TREES are cleaner and safer but make sure they are fire retardant
  • Make sure the have a UL label of approval
  • METAL TREES, if used properly, are not fire hazards
  • Only illuminate them with flood lights--never with electric lights which can get damaged by the sharp metal edges of the tree as well as cause severe shock and possibly start a fire
  • Place the flood lights up out of reach of children and away from anything that can burn
  • NATURAL TREES are cut-either by yourself or someone else.  To avoid fire hazards, choose a tree that...
  • ...has good color
  • ...has needles that are hard to pull out
  • ...has needles that bend and then break when bent between your thumb and index finger
  • ...has sticky resin (sometimes referred to as sap) on the butt of the trunk
  • ...does not drop a lot of needles when it's trunk is bounced off the ground


  • Keep a real tree outside until you are ready to decorate it
  • use a stand that is appropriate for your tree
  • If using a real tree, cut 1 - 2" off the bottom of the trunk to help absorb water
  • Make sure your tree stand can hold at least one gallon of water
  • A tree should use between 1 quart and 1 gallon of water per day, so be sure to check the level of water at least once a day.  More is desirable
  • Secure the tree to the wall or ceiling with string or wire to keep it from tipping
  • Large quantities of needles falling off the tree indicate a fire hazard.  Dispose of the tree immediately according to your local regulations
  • Breakable ornaments and those with small parts & metal hooks should be placed out of reach
  • Older ornaments which may be decorated with lead paint are a hazard to pets & children
  • Metal tinsel can cause a short or a fire if touching electrical lights or wiring and can be dangerous if swallowed by children or pets


  • Use miniature lights when possible as they will not dry out the needles as quickly
  • All lights should have the UL approval label
  • Use a sturdy ladder on a solid surface while decorating.  Use the buddy system when hanging lights or decorations
  • Inspect each set of lights (old & new) for 1) broken or cracked wires; 2) frayed or bare wires; 3) loose connections; 4)loose or missing bulbs
  • Throw out or repair any damaged sets
  • Unplug lights before replacing any bulbs.  Read the packaging for proper wattage and voltage
  • Never connect more than 3 sets of lights together or on an extension cord
  • Do not staple or nail through electrical cords.  It could cause an electrical shock
  • Never use extension cords under carpets, across doorways, or pinched behind furniture
  • Never overload receptacles
  • Protect all electrical connections-both indoors and outdoors-from water
  • Unplug all Christmas lights when leaving or going to bed and never pull on the cord to unplug
  • Remove outdoor lighting when the season is over.  These types of lights are not designed for prolonged exposure to the elements
  • Never decorate a tree with real candles


  • All electrical toys should be UL approved
  • Never burn wrapping paper or Christmas trees in a fireplace.  They burn too quickly and can create a deadly chemical buildup in the chimney or throw off sparks that cause fires
  • Remove all stockings, decorations, and greens from in front of the fire place and mantle before starting a fire
  • Keep chocolate out of the reach of pets
  • Poisonous plants such as mistletoe, poinsettias, holly berries, and ivy should be kept out of reach of children and pets
  • Provide smokers with large, deep, non-tipping ashtrays.  Make sure they are emptied often but that the butts are completely out before disposing
  • Check all furniture and wastebaskets for smoldering cigarettes
  • Alcohol is the #1 cause of many types of accidents around the holiday season.  Please!, don't drink and drive
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Last modified: 12-Jul-2007