Wishing You Happy & Safe Holidays!
How many people would you guess end up in ERs around the country as a result of accidents relating to holiday decorations? Would you believe: 15,000? That's the population equivalent of a small city!
Worse still, that number has been steadily growing across the years. Despite all the safety warnings, it shows no sign of slowing down.
And that doesn’t include the thousands more mishaps that happen at home that are never reported. The actual number of accidents could be two or three times that figure.
Most of the accidents are the result of fires, electrocutions, ladder falls, and other trips and slips -- some of them fatal and all of them preventable with just a little thought.
You can make sure you and your family are not among the victims by following these 20 indoor and outdoor holiday decorating safety tips:
- First, don’t rush your decs. It sounds obvious but many accidents happen because the people involved are just in too much of a hurry. That leads to corner cutting and failure to spot obvious hazards.
- Cut the risk of a Christmas tree fire by using either a fire-resistant artificial tree or a fresh live tree. Fresh means that the tree has not dried out, that the needles do not fall when you first shake the tree and that you keep it properly hydrated.
- Also, don’t locate your tree near to a fire or any other heat source. And never use candles on a tree. Even so, you should keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
- In fact, you should be wary about using candles anywhere. They're one of the biggest causes of home fires. Place them securely on a level, stable surface and never leave them burning unattended.
- Because the risk of fire is so much greater at this time of year, ensure you have an emergency home evacuation plan. Ideally, you should have one of these plans to protect you all year round. Check this guide from the National Fire Protection Association: http://tinyurl.com/NFPA-guide
- Check your lights, replacing any that are broken and discarding sets that have broken or frayed cords. Lights should have been tested for safety -- usually, this is indicated by a "UL" (for Underwriters Laboratory) on the label.
- Don't connect more than two or three sets of lights to a single extension cord. Use heavy duty cords and, for outside your home, only cords specifically marked for outdoor use.
- If you have a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet, use this for connecting external lights and inflatables.
- Wherever you run cords, make sure they're safely positioned so as not to trip up anyone. If possible, use a brightly colored cord that can easily be spotted.
- Commonsense Christmas tree decorating safety rules include using unbreakable ornaments and protecting the tree against curious kids and pets. If you do use fragile ornaments, place them outside the kid and pet zone.
- Ensure your trimmings, such as tinsel and paper decorations, are non-combustible or flame resistant.
- Wear gloves to handle "angel hair" -- it's spun glass.
- If an ornament breaks, ensure all pieces are carefully removed before bare feet enter the area.
- Don't use decorations that look like food. These can easily fool children and pets into eating them.
- When hanging lights around the home -- inside or out -- use clips. Don’t use nails or tacks because of the risk of penetrating the electrical cord.
- Always switch off your Christmas lights on both your tree and elsewhere in and out of the home before your turn in for bed. Inside lights should also be switched off when you go out.
- Watch out for other seasonal hazards such as poisonous plants. These include poinsettias, amaryllis, holly and mistletoe.
- Watch out if you plan to use artificial snow spray. It can be dangerous if inhaled. Read the instructions carefully.
- If you have an open fire, don't throw wrapping paper onto the flames. This type of paper can ignite very quickly.
- Likewise, be cautious with the use of so-called "fire salts" which cause wood flames to change color. They give off a gas containing heavy metals which can cause nausea and vomiting.
Holiday Decorating Ladder Safety
Use a ladder for indoor and outdoor decorations that are beyond your normal reach.
For maximum safety you always need two people when using a ladder -- one to do the climbing and the other to hold the ladder steady and keep watch for hazards.
Here are some other tips from the American Ladder Institute:
- Read any safety information on the ladder or in the documents that came with it before you start.
- Don’t use ladders in high winds or storms, or if you're feeling tired or dizzy.
- Wear slip-resistant shoes and clean the soles before using. This will maximize traction.
- Don't use ladders near power lines or in front of closed doors.
- Place your ladder on firm, even ground and climb slowly.
- Use the three-points-of-contact rule when climbing:
"At all times during ascent, descent, and working, the climber must face the ladder and have two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder steps, rungs and/or side rails. In this way, the climber is not likely to become unstable in the event one limb slips during the climb."
Insurance -- Your Safety Backstop
Whether you're celebrating Christmas, Hanukah or Kwanzaa, we want you to have a happy and safe Holiday.
But even with the best safety procedures, unforeseen events and accidents are an ever-present danger.
To prepare for those "just in case" possibilities, make sure you have good homeowners insurance or renters insurance to protect you.
If you don't, just contact Aldrich Taylor Insurance for a swift and price-competitive solution. You have a lot on your mind at this time of year, so you'll want to get this item off your Holiday checklist as soon as possible.
By doing this and following our Christmas decorating safety tips above you'll be best prepared for a happy festive celebration.