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Holiday Safety – Decorating Tips

It’s that time of year again! Yes, time for many of us to begin decorating for the holidays. These Holiday traditions are part of the magic of the season, but they can present hazards if safe practices are not observed. According to the National Fire Protection Association, thirty per cent of all home fires occur during December, January and February. In addition, nearly 6,000 people a year are treated in hospital emergency rooms for falls associated with holiday decorations. More than half of these injuries involve falls from ladders or roofs while decorating outdoors. Here are some of the most common holiday decoration and lighting tips to keep you safe!

Preparation

Before you start rigging up the lights, run your decorations through a quick check. Inspect your string lights. Are they frayed, cracked or have damaged sockets? Do you see any broken wires or loose connections? These are hazards and may cause electrical shock or start a fire. Discard and replace damaged items. Pay special attention to plugs, and ensure that the wire insulation is fully intact. Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. Don’t overload extension cords with strings of lights, as this can cause an electrical fire.

Candles

You may enjoy the natural glow of candles to festively illuminate your home during the Holidays. Candles are wonderful, but we need to be especially careful with open flames. Be sure to keep candles away from evergreen trees and flammable materials. Never leave candles unattended, and be sure to extinguish all candles before leaving the house.

Indoor & Outdoor Decorations

DO NOT connect more string lights than the manufacturer recommends. Typically, it is no more than three light strings for one extension cord. Light strings with stacked plugs can usually accommodate longer lengths than end-to-end connections.

“If one goes out”… unplug the entire set and then replace the bulb. Replace burned-out bulbs promptly. An empty socket can cause the entire string to overheat.

Use lights and extension cords designed for outdoor use if using them outside. Seems simply enough, keep in mind, lighting intended for outdoor use will be too hot for interior use. Here’s a interior lighting tip: Try LED string lights, they are cool to the touch and are as energy efficient as you can get! Don’t attach light strings with nails or staples. Use only UL-approved hangers.

Decorations come in all shapes and sizes, so use these guidelines to make safe selections for your festive trimmings. Never use lighted candles on or near a tree. Families with small children should make sure to avoid decorations that a sharp or easily broken. Decorations that look like candy or food may be a choking hazard to young children who might put the item in his or her mouth.

Trees

A tree is often the centerpiece of holiday decorating and getting the right tree is the first step towards safety. Artificial trees should be fire resistant. Check for a tag that says “fire-resistant” before purchasing an artificial tree. Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Live trees should be bought as fresh as possible or else your tree could become dry and flammable. A fresh tree is green with needles that are hard to pull from branches. The needles should not break when bent. Keep trees away from fireplaces and heaters, and keep plenty of water in the base.

Breakdown

Take exterior lights down within 90 days. The longer they are up, the more likely they are to suffer damage from weather and even the chance that a small critter might chew on them.

Store your lights safely. Be sure to untangle lights before putting them away. Tangled lights can result in damaged cords and broken sockets. Wrapping them around a piece of cardboard and then wrapped in paper or fabric to protect the bulbs is your best bet. Also, keep your lighting in a sturdy container for years of continued use.

Wishing you a safe and enjoyable holiday season,

Lewis Jones
Summit Country Homes & Remodeling

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