But all that holiday decorating poses a few extra safety hazards for this festive time of year. To keep your holidays free of hazards, follow these decorating safety tips and make sure your home is merry and bright all season long.
Indoor and outdoor lights for the holidays can really bedazzle your home. However, they also present a few safety concerns:
- First of all, make sure you use indoor lights inside and outdoor lights outside and that are properly marked with a certification agency such as CSA, cUL or cETL recommended by the Government of Canada. This is to prevent using lights that have been recalled and put into the Healthy Canadians Recalls and Safety Alerts Database.
- Be sure to check all the light bulbs to see if any of them are burnt out or need to be replaced or if there are any frayed wires or loose connections.
- When hanging lights in tall spots, have someone hold the ladder for you or spot you.
- Avoid decorating lights in low places such as the bottom of a Christmas tree where small children or pets could get tangled in them or sustain an injury.
- Do not plug multiple lights into outlets or extension cords.
- Do not run any extension cords under doorways, carpets or furniture as it can become a fire hazard.
- Remember to turn off the lights before you go to bed or use an automatic timer.
Whether it’s a real or artificial, a Christmas tree adds plenty of festive cheer to your home. Follow these safety tips to ensure your twinkling tree doesn’t pose a holiday hazard:
- If you opt for a real tree, ensure that it is a fresh one – you can tell the freshness of the tree by how easily the needles come off. If the needles are easy to pull off the tree, your festive fir is less than fresh.
- Water your tree every day to keep it from drying out.
- Secure the tree in a sturdy stand and keep it away from doorways and busy areas of your home, as well as radiators, stoves, heating vents, fireplaces and burning candles – these present an obvious fire hazard when near a live (or artificial) Christmas tree.
- If you choose an artificial tree, check that it is fire resistant. While this doesn’t mean that the tree won’t ever catch fire, it does mean that it will be more resistant to burning.
- If you have small children and pets, avoid sharp, breakable ornaments, and avoid decorations with small removable parts. Steer clear of ornaments that resemble food, since hungry little humans and pets might mistake them for a holiday treat.
- It’s preferable to discard your tree as soon as the holidays are over, but if you’d like to keep your festive fir up for a little longer, make sure to dispose of it when the needles start to fall out.
Fireplaces and candles
Candles are an essential part of any holiday celebration. Stay safe with your festive flames by following these precautions:
- Always place candles away from the reach of children.
- Never leave candles burning unattended.
- When lighting your candles, remove all flammable material from the surrounding area, and make sure your candles are in a spot where they will not be accidently knocked over.
- Never use candles to decorate your Christmas tree, or keep them near other evergreens.
- Keep your candles in sturdy candle holders and on a flat surface.
- Before you go to bed or leave the house, extinguish all of your candles.
- Before you turn on your fireplace for the holiday season, make sure your chimney flue is open, inspected and cleaned before you use it.
- Use a screen protector in front of your fireplace to protect against flying sparks.
- Don’t throw wrapping paper into the fireplace, as it is prone to igniting suddenly.
- Use only dried and seasoned wood as firewood – don’t attempt to use your Christmas tree once you’ve taken it down for the season.
As lovely as they are, holiday plants can sometimes pose a safety risk that we often overlook when the busy holiday season rolls around. If you’re decorating your home with pretty poinsettias and magical mistletoe, take heed of these important safety tips:
- Although they get a bad reputation, poinsettias are not poisonous to humans. However, like with any plant, consuming a large amount of this festive favorite could lead to cramping and diarrhea, so it’s best to keep them out of the prying hands of curious toddlers.
- While they may not be as harmful to humans, however, poinsettias are dangerous for pets, so if you choose to decorate with these classic Christmas plants, make sure they are kept far away from where Fido can take a bite.
- The plants that you do want to keep a close watch on this holiday season are actually mistletoe, holly, and firethorn. While frequently used in holiday decorations, this holiday greenery can be very dangerous if ingested, and can cause severe stomach cramps and diarrhea. If ingested, these plants can even be fatal – so take extra care when decorating in the presence of pets and young children.
- If you choose to hang some mistletoe over your doorway to invite some playful holiday pecks, make sure you secure it properly so there’s no change of it falling to the ground where a curious pet or child could find it.
Happy holidays and happy (and safe) decorating!