Holiday Hazards: Guidelines for Safe Decorating

Christmas Cover Image

The countdown for Christmas is officially on!  One of the most exciting times of the year – ice skating & hot chocolate, spending time with family and of course, Christmas trees and beautiful lights.  Decorating your home for the holidays is fun for the whole family.  Whether you are going simple or extravagant with lighting & decorations this year, please remember to keep you and your family safe by following the basic guidelines below.

Christmas Trees:

Christmas Tree Lot

photo cred Patrick Lentz-flickr

Always select a fresh tree as dry trees significantly increase the risk of fire.  Try to buy one that can be cut for you as opposed to buying pre-cut.  If pre-cut is your only option, before purchasing do a few tests to make sure it’s fresh.  Pull on the needles, if they come off easy move on to the next tree.  You can also try bending a few needles, if they break, it’s another sign the tree is too dry.  After buying, cut two inches off the bottom of the trunk before placing in water.  Check the water level daily and make sure to keep away from heat sources.   Artificial trees are another option that offer less maintenance and can be reused year after year.  Just like fresh cut trees, make sure not overload the electrical sockets with lights as artificial trees are still able to catch fire.  Always turn off tree lights before you go to bed!

Outdoor Lighting:

Christmas House

If you decide to decorate the exterior of your home with lights and decorations it is very important to use the correct lighting products and have them appropriately installed.  Most important for outdoor lights; make sure you are using string lights that are made specifically for outdoor use.  The lights you use on your tree will not do for the exterior of your home!  Only purchase lights that are UL approved and always carefully inspect the wires and individual bulbs for damages or defects.  Never run cords under carpets or doorways.  Similar to Christmas tree lights, do not overload circuits or connect more than three strands together.


christmas candle

Candle safety should be followed year round.  However the increased use around the holidays, especially Hanukkah, is the most common time that candles cause injuries.  Always keep candles away from combustibles.  Never leave lit candles unattended especially if you are leaving the house.  Be extra cautious if children or pets live in the home as candles can be accidentally knocked over or bumped into.  If you haven’t done so already, teach your family fire safety and what to do in case of a fire in your home.