Holiday Home Safety Tips
Posted on by Eric Rubel
Holiday lighting, decorations, trees and more help to put everyone in the holiday mood. All of these things help set a cheerful holiday atmosphere, but they also pose hidden dangers. These tips can help you keep your family and home safe.
1. Holiday Lighting
While twinkle lights “help to make spirits bright,” they can also start fires.
- Carefully select flame-resistant strings of lights. Look for a certification mark (i.e. ELT or UL) to make sure the lights comply with safety standards.
- Examine the strands of lights you’ve had for years and replace them if the wires are frayed, the cord is tightly kinked or sockets are cracked.
- Be careful to not overload extension cords or outlet strips.
- Keep children and pets away from light strings or decorations that use electricity. Additionally, showing pets and children each ornament and telling them it is off-limits is a wonderful way to keep them safe.
- Always turn your lights off when you are going to bed or leaving the house. This not only prevents fires but also will save you money on your electric bill.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree; a single touch can cause electrocution.
- Many older ornaments were potentially painted with lead paint. If you even suspect they were, don’t put them on display. This is especially important if you have children.
- Use only nonflammable or fire retardant ornaments.
- Keep decorations and other flammable materials away from lit candles and fireplaces.
- With children in the home, be sure your ornaments are shatterproof and free of sharp edges.
- Also, hang ornaments with moving parts out of your child’s reach.
- If you’ve decided to purchase an artificial tree, select one that has a “fire-resistant” label.
- When selecting a live tree, look for needles that are fresh, green, and that don’t break easily when bent.
- Be sure to keep the tree watered, to ensure that the needles do not dry out.
- It is important that when deciding on where to place the tree, that it doesn’t block any major exits.
- Set your tree up away from fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, and other heat sources. Placing trees too close to a heating source is the cause of approximately one-in-six holiday tree fires.
- When choosing a gift for an older adult, select gifts that aren’t heavy or awkward.
- When choosing a gift for infants or small children, it’s important to avoid anything with small parts that could become choking hazards. A good rule of thumb is if a part can fit through a toilet paper tube, it can fit inside a child’s mouth.
- Be aware of the dangers associated with coin lithium batteries; of particular concern is the ingestion of button batteries.
As you’re preparing for guests, keep these safety tips in mind.
- Don’t leave the kitchen when anything is cooking. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S., according to the National Fire Protection Association. Two out of every five home fires start in the kitchen.*
- Be sure the fireplace flue is open BEFORE you light the fire. Keep evergreen boughs, paper, and decorations away from the fireplace.
- Never burn wrapping papers in the fireplace.
- Poinsettias are festive. While they are NOT poisonous to pets, according to veterinary experts, they are mildly toxic and CAN cause skin irritation, nausea, and vomiting. Keep them out of your pet’s reach or avoid displaying them at all.
- Slippery pathways are a danger to people of all ages.
- Older guests may need ramps to get access into relatives homes during the holidays. Lifeway rents ramps and stairlifts!
While you’re busy enjoying holiday parties and events, criminals are diligently watching your home. So be extra careful to ensure that in spite of all of the holiday excitement that you lock your doors and windows when you leave home. You should also:
- Be creative about where you hide your spare key. Thieves know to check under doormats, above the door, under rocks, and in flower pots.
- Keep indoor lights on a timer.
- Leave a TV or radio on so it looks sounds like someone is at home.
- Not display gifts in front of windows.
- Ask someone to pick up your newspaper and mail if you’ll be away for extended periods.
American Home Shield. (2018). Top 5 Tips for Holiday Home Safety | Home Matters blog.
National Safety Council. (2018). Safety at Home.
*Reproduced from NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week website. ©2014 NFPA.