Decorating Safety for the Holidays

December 17, 2014

Holiday Decorating Safety

This is the magical time of year when the wonders of the holidays are illuminated with lights and decorations. Despite their beauty, there are some safety precautions that should be taken to keep your holidays stress-free.

Christmas Tree Safety

As the holidays roll in and lights go up, it is extremely important to be conscious of fire safety procedures. According to the National Fire Protection Agency:

  • Between 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 230 home fires that started with Christmas trees each year. These fires caused an average of six deaths, 22 injuries, and $18.3 million in direct property damage annually.
  • On average, one of every 40 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home fires.
  • Electrical problems were factors in one-third (32%) of home Christmas tree structure fires.

The agency also recommends the following in order to keep your holidays safe and memorable for the right reasons.

Picking the Tree

  • If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

Placing the Tree

  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting the Tree

  • Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

Outdoor Decorations and Lighting

According to Electrical Safety Foundation International, ESFI, “while holiday lighting and electrical decorations do contribute to the splendor of the season, they can also significantly increase the risk [of] fires and electrical injuries if not used safely. Given these safety hazards, it is crucial that safety is a foremost concern.”

Some suggested tips–

  • Make sure all extension cords and electrical decorations used for outdoor decorating are marked for outdoor use.
  • Match power needs of electrical products with amperage rating of extension cords.
  • Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters.
  • Keep all extension cords and light strings clear of snow and standing water.
  • Make sure spotlights used to illuminate decorations are well-ventilated, protected from weather, and a safe distance from flammable items.
  • Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to sleep.

Adhering to these simple rules is a foolproof way to ensure your holidays are spent happy, healthy and safely.

Need to update your homeowners insurance or rental insurance policy? Get in touch with Burkhart Insurance Agency today. We can help you get the protection you need at a price you can afford.

Photo Credit: CC Image Courtesy of JD Hancock

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