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“O’ Christmas Tree!” | How to Safely Decorate For Christmas This Season



people-decorating-christmas-tree

The holiday season is upon us! While there is much to celebrate this time of year, it is also important to keep family safety in mind. Learn how to safely decorate for Christmas this year and for years to come!

How to Safely Decorate For Christmas This Season

Some of my most joyous memories are of decorating the Christmas tree. The hand-made ornaments my sister and I made in the first grade, the tangled ornament hooks from 1990, the leftover glitter and tinsel that lines the bottom of the old ornament boxes – but, most of all, the memories that my family made each year while decorating the tree (and our home) are some of my most treasured, unforgettable moments.

But, did you know…

While Christmas trees are an essential decoration of Christmas, each year Christmas trees start nearly 250 house fires.  Although the number of fires started from Christmas trees is not extremely high, they are extremely serious. One of every 15 reported fires that began with a tree resulted in fatalities.

Not to worry…there are safety measures you and your family can take to make this Christmas (and every Christmas) a safe one!

Preventing Christmas Tree Fires

christmas-tree-in-living-room “O’ Christmas Tree!" | How to Safely Decorate For Christmas This Season

Here are some important fire safety precautions that help to safely decorate for Christmas and can be taken when keeping a live tree in the house.

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  • Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches. Also, the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut.
  • While this may seem odd, the trunk should be sticky to the touch. Older trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a probable fire hazard.
  • Ask the seller to cut off 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5cm) off the end. Doing this will improve the tree’s ability to absorb  water, keeping it greener much longer.
  • Do not place your tree close to a heat source – including a fireplace or heat vent. The tree should be at least 3 feet (approximately 1 meter) from any heat source. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame, or sparks. Also, be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree.
  • Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks.
  • Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
  • Disposing of your tree: Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.
  • If you’re using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

Taking Proper Care With Holiday Lights

string-christmas-lights “O’ Christmas Tree!" | How to Safely Decorate For Christmas This Season

Part of learning to safely decorate for Christmas comes from being smart about electrical updates. All electrical lights should be treated with care to avoid a potential fire and/or electric shocks. If you can, upgrade to LED (light-emitting diode) lights; these are safer because they do not generate heat.

  • Maintain your holiday lights. Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. ONLY use lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
  • Do not run cords under rugs as this is a major fire hazard.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets. It’s also not a good idea to link more than three light strands per outlet, unless the directions indicate it is safe to do so. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should never be warm to the touch.
  • Use heavy gauge extension cords as they are much harder to fray and they remain cool.
  • While it mat not look as nice, tape down cords that are in traffic areas and could easily be tripped over. Blue masking tape will keep the cords firmly in place against the floor and prevent tripping – without damaging paint.

 Other Precautions for a Safe and Memorable Holiday

Be alert to the hazards holiday decorations can cause. While they are undoubtedly festive, holiday decorations can become fire hazards or choking hazards if not placed thoughtfully. Here are some things to be aware of:

  • Use only nonflammable decorations. All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant. Place decorations away from heat vents.
  • Never put wrapping paper in a fireplace. It can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.
  • Keep small and breakable decorations out of the reach of babies, toddlers, cats, dogs, and any other pets. Ornaments can easily be swallowed and turn into choking hazards when curious hands and paws get hold of them. In addition, take care when hanging tinsel or stringed decorations to avoid tripping or strangulation hazards.
  • Do not put ornaments that have small parts or metal hooks, or look like food or candy on the lower branches where small children can reach them.

christmas-candles “O’ Christmas Tree!" | How to Safely Decorate For Christmas This Season

Be candle wise! While candles are a long-loved tradition for some families at Christmas, they can also be a major fire hazard if left unattended or near flammable items.

  • Avoid using lit candles if possible. If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning. If you think you’re going to be distracted, consider putting them out when you leave the room.
  • NEVER put lit candles on a tree. Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame – candles, lighters, or matches.
  • Do not put candles out by blowing. Blowing on them can send sparks and hot wax flying, which can easily cause a fire. It is safer to extinguish them with a snuffer or a spoon.

So, do you have a holiday safety tip that your family uses to safely decorate for Christmas? Tell us in the comment section below!

If you’re looking to fill your stockings with real-life safety gear then this article on Using The Holidays To Build Your Prepper Stockpile is a must read!

If you’re looking for some safe Christmas decor, check out these fantastic options:

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