During November and December, families gather together to decorate their homes for the holiday season. Although trees, lights and candles are beautiful and festive, they often pose dangers. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, last year, emergency departments treated 14,700 injuries related to holiday decorating (that’s about 240 injuries per day). By following the simple tips below, you can help keep your family safe this holiday season.
If you’re buying a live tree, make sure it’s fresh. Fresh trees are green with needles that don’t break when you bend them. Keep your tree watered in a tree stand as dry trees ignite more easily. If you are buying a synthetic tree, make sure it is labeled “fire resistant.” Keep trees away from heat sources, including heaters, vents and fireplaces. If you have small children in the home, avoid sharp, breakable and small ornaments, those that can fit inside the opening of a toilet paper roll, as they are choking hazards. Same goes for toys: make sure that gifts are age-appropriate.
Unplug lights, including tree lights, when sleeping and while not at home. Replace lights that have frayed cords and broken sockets. Ensure the lights have been tested by a nationally-recognized testing facility. You should only use lights outdoors if they are labeled for outdoor use and only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter.
The holidays mean lots of food and cooking. Make sure you use the back burners and turn handles towards the back of the stove so children are not able to reach them and potentially burn themselves. Never leave food items in the oven with the door open.
Keep candles on a sturdy, flat surface and blow out when unattended.
Never burn wrapping paper in your fire place as it can start fires – instead, recycle or reuse!
Work as a team when putting up decorations, especially in high places - falls from ladders are a leading cause of holiday injuries.
Many holiday plants are poisonous, so keep them out of reach of pets and children.
Smoke alarms should be placed on every floor and in every bedroom in your home; make sure to test them once a month.
And, most importantly, have a safe and happy holiday!
If you’re interested in learning more about Texas Children’s Center for Childhood Injury Prevention, click here.