Winter Holiday Safety
The holiday season is a joyous time, but it presents many unique hazards. Follow these guidelines and celebrate safely.
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for a label that reads "Fire Resistant." This label does not mean the tree won't catch fire; it does, however, indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly in the event it ignites.
- When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, with needles that are hard to pull from branches and that do not break when bent between your fingers. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin. When tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
- When setting up a tree, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry out live trees rapidly, be sure to keep the tree stand filled with water
- Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, which indicates conformance with safety standards.
- Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified electrician.
- Check all lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Throw out damaged sets. Always replace burned-out bulbs with the bulbs of the same wattage.
- Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
- Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
- Stay away from power or feeder lines leading from utility poles into older homes.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks. Or, consider running strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores).
- Turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
- Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree.
- Never use lighted candles on a tree. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
- In homes with small children, avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable.
- Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food, which may tempt a child to eat them.