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  • Writer's pictureRichard Morse

Tips for Safe Home Holiday Decorating

No matter what you celebrate, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, it's time to decorate! According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), injuries due to poor decorating practices are on the rise.

To view and share a Holiday Safety video and a poster, and for more information on how to have a Home Safe Home during the holidays, please visit CPSC’s Holiday Safety Information Center.

The CPSC states that, "On average, there are about 200 decorating-related injuries each day during the holiday season, with the majority of the incidents involving falls. And in the 2017 holiday season, about 18,100 people were treated in emergency rooms due to holiday decorating-related injuries.In the 2018 holiday season, there were five deaths associated with holiday decorating.From 2014 to 2016, there were about 100 Christmas tree fires and about 1,100 candle fires, resulting in 10 deaths, 150 injuries and nearly $50 million in property damage each of those years.

Make sure your live Christmas tree has plenty of water, and look for the "Fire Resistant” label when buying an artificial tree. Place burning candles in sight, away from flammable items, and blow them out before leaving the room. Only use lights tested for safety by a national recognized testing laboratory. Throw out sets with broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections."

If you plan on having a large display, remember to not overload any individual circuit. Plan your lights accordingly!

Lights and Trees -

  • Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, loose connections, or frayed or bare wires. Discard all damaged cords.

  • Don't connect lights while adjusting them on a tree or house. Inspect lights and plug them together before hanging.

  • Indoors or out, use only lights that have been tested for safety. The lights should have the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label.

  • Don't let light bulbs rest on tree needles and branches. Use a clip or twist-tie to keep bulbs upright.

  • Watch young children around lights and decorations with small pieces that could be ingested.

  • Unplug tree lights and decorative outdoor lighting before leaving the house or going to bed.

  • If you buy an artificial tree, check for a "flame resistant" label.

  • Buy LED holiday lights. They are not only longer-lasting, but they don't get hot to the touch, so they're a lot safer.

Cords and Outlets -

  • Don't overload outlets or extension cords.

  • Keep cords out of water and away from metal objects.

  • To hook up your outdoor lighting, use a three-prong grounded extension cord with the UL label.

  • Uncoil extension cords completely before using, and be sure to place them away from heat sources and bulbs.

  • Never place cords under rugs and doors or through windows where they might be pinched or become worn.

How many is too many? If in doubt, use outlets on two separate circuits.

Using the Ladder -

  • When selecting an extension ladder, know that the top of it must extend at least 3 feet above the roof eave.

  • Ensure that you are not setting up an extension ladder upside down with the fly section at the bottom and the base section at the top, rung locks engaged.

  • When the extension ladder has been used as a single ladder, ensure that all guides or brackets are properly assembled and engaged before you use it.

  • Never make an extension adjustment when someone is standing on the ladder.

  • Be sure the extension rope is tracking correctly on the pulley before making an extension adjustment.

  • Never step or stand higher than the step indicated on the label marking the highest standing level.

  • Never attempt to mount the ladder from the side or step from one ladder to another unless the ladder is secured against sideways motion.

Don't allow this to happen to you. Always have a spotter present!

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