The winter holidays are a time for celebration, and that means
more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased
risk of fire and accidents.
Following these guidelines will help make your
holiday season safer & more enjoyable...
Holiday decorating & lighting
Use caution with holiday decorations and whenever possible,
choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant or
Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible
materials, and do not use candles to decorate Christmas
Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings and
replace damaged items before plugging lights in. Do not
overload extension cords.
Don't mount lights in any way that can damage the cord's
wire insulation (i.e., using clips, not nails).
Keep children and pets away from light strings and
Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving
the house or going to bed.
Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the
U.S. When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an
eye on the range.
Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays and check them
frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and
cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water
Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of
children (preferably in a locked cabinet).
Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire
escape plan is.
When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire
When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh
tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and
when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
When setting up a tree at home, place it away from
fireplaces, radiators or portable heaters. Place the tree
out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the
fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will
help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire
Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated
rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
Make sure the base is steady so the tree
won't tip over easily.
Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can
become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a
person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they
have been certified for outdoor use.
To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or
insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug
lights to remove them.
Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed
wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with
ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
The lights could short out and start a fire.
Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to
trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic
or nonleaded metals.
Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other
evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place
candles where they will not be knocked down.
In homes with small children, take special care to avoid
decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with
small removable parts out of the reach of children.
Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food
that may tempt a young child to eat them.
Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers,
and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that
the flue is open.
Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames
when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that
can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting
Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire
may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
Toys and Ornaments
Purchase appropriate toys for the appropriate age. Some toys
designed for older children might be dangerous for younger
Electric toys should be UL/FM approved.
Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords, or
parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to
Place older ornaments and decorations that might be painted
with lead paint out of the reach of small children and
Children and Pets
Poinsettias are known to be poisonous to humans and animals,
so keep them well out-of-reach, or avoid having them.
Keep decorations at least 6 inches above the child’s reach.
Avoid using tinsel. It can fall on the floor and a curious
child or pet may eat it. This can cause anything from mild
distress to death.
Keep any ribbons on gifts and tree ornaments shorter than 7
inches. A child could wrap a longer strand of ribbon around
their neck and choke.
Avoid mittens with strings for children. The string can get
tangled around the child’s neck and cause them to choke. It
is easier to replace a mitten than a child.
Watch children and pets around space heaters or the
fireplace. Do not leave a child or pet unattended.
Store scissors and any sharp objects that you use to wrap
presents out of your child’s reach.
Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations,
such as candy canes, gingerbread men, or mistletoe berries,
all of which are choking hazards.
Use your home burglar alarm system.
If you plan to travel for the holidays don’t discuss your
plans with strangers.
Have a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your
YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD INSPECTOR WISHES YOU A SAFE & JOYOUS