With the holiday season upon us, we must remember that the most important part of holiday decorating is not picking out a lighting color scheme or choosing between a natural or artificial tree; it is rather, ensuring that whatever the decorations chosen, they are safe! Here are some helpful strategies for making your holiday season a secure and joyful one.
Outside lighting is one way many bring holiday spirit to their homes and following a few simple guidelines can make it a safer experience for you, your family, and your neighbors. The CSPC has an excellent online pamphlet with suggestions, including: whether you choose lights for "indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the label from an independent testing laboratory."
They also suggest that light strands be firmly secured to the house, trees, walls, or other sturdy support to guard against wind damage. Checking light strands for damaged sockets or broken bulbs can also protect against fire. The Electrical Safety Foundation International, ESFI also remind us not to overload extension cord sockets or to string more than three strands of incandescent bulbs together.
Trees are often at the center of holiday decorations and by taking a few precautions they can be a safe addition to your home. Making the decision between a natural tree and an artificial one comes down to personal preference but each comes with its own set of care requirements. Choose an artificial tree only if it is identified as "fire resistant."
When choosing a cut tree, keeping it watered is by far the most important step in making it safe for your home. CSPC suggests: "Cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption. Trim away branches as necessary to set tree trunk in the base of a sturdy, water-holding stand with wide spread feet. Keep the stand filled with water while the tree is indoors."
The U.S. Fire Administration provides information on choosing a healthy tree for your home: "Needles...should be green and hard to pull back from the branches and...should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch." The USFA states that trees which have been sitting too long can be identified simply by bouncing the trunk off the ground. If a large number of needles fall, the tree is most likely dried out and is already a fire hazard.
Keeping yourself and your family safe around the holidays is a matter of common sense. Read directions, look for quality guarantees, follow safety guidelines, and maintain your decorations throughout the season. Add sparkle to your season safely.