(ARA) – Ah, the holidays – ’tis the season for twinkling lights, gently glowing candles and festive decor. Unfortunately, it’s also the season for thousands of decorating-related injuries and decoration-fueled home fires.
Who would think holiday decorations could be hazardous to your health and your family’s safety? Decoration-related disasters are far more common than you might think. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), December and January are the peak months for the overall number of home fires, deaths and injuries. Families looking to spread holiday cheer should be aware that each year an average of 240 home fires start with Christmas trees and an additional 1,300 begin with various other seasonal decorations.
‘You can keep your holidays bright and memorable for the right reasons by following a few simple safety guidelines,’ says John Drengenberg, manager of Consumer Affairs for Underwriters Laboratories (UL), one of the world’s leading product safety certification organizations that tests more than 19,000 types of products each year.
The NFPA and UL recommend families practice ‘TLC’ – Tree, Light and Candle safety – when decorating this holiday season.
- T is for Tree
- After buying your tree, trim one to two inches off the bottom of the trunk and place it in water as soon as possible to keep it from drying out.
- Keep the tree base or stand filled with water at all times. Left un-watered over time, a tree’s needles can dry out and catch fire more easily.
- Place the tree at least three feet – and preferably more – from fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, heating vents and other sources of heat.
- Never block an exit with your Christmas tree.
- Inspect decorations, cords and other electrical items before plugging them in to ensure they are in good condition. Cracked sockets and frayed, bare or loose wires can cause a serious electric shock or start a fire.
- Look for the UL Mark on your lights (the letters ‘UL’ inside a circle) for reassurance they have been tested to strict UL requirements that help avoid foreseeable safety risks.
- Never connect more than three midget light sets together, plug to plug. Light strings with larger, screw-in bulbs should not exceed 50 bulbs connected together.
- Turn off all light strings and electrical decorations in and outside your home before going out or going to bed.
- Never leave a room while a candle is burning. Blow candles out before you leave a room, even if you think you’ll only be gone for a few minutes.
- Keep decorations away from open flames.
- Keep candles away from curtains, bedding, paper, furniture and other combustible materials.
- Place candles out of the reach of children and pets, who may accidentally tip over a lit candle.
In many American homes, the tree is the centerpiece of holiday decorations. But trees can carry unintended dangers as well. ‘While Christmas tree fires are rare, they can be deadly,’ said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of communications. ‘NFPA reports show that on average, a person died in one of every 15 reported Christmas tree fires. As with most fires, following a few simple safety guidelines can prevent these fires from happening in the first place.’
Follow these tips for tree safety:
L is for Lights
Old, damaged holiday lights and extension cords – or new counterfeit ones that do not legitimately bear a recognized safety certification mark such as the UL Mark – may pose potential safety hazards.
C is for Candle
Candles cause 71 percent of December home fires that begin as a result of improper decorating practices.
‘While candles present the most significant fire hazard during the holiday months, all decorations should be inspected for safety,’ Drengenberg says. ‘By keeping safety top of mind, you and your loved ones can enjoy a safer holiday season.’
To learn more about how to have a safe and worry-free holiday, please visit, www.ul.com/newsroom/gift. Courtesy of ARAcontent