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We’re all about to shake off all the indulgent Thanksgiving food and football daze and pull out the holiday decorations.  Before you start string those lights up, lighting the candles, and hanging the tinsel we have a few tips for keeping your family safe during the this season.  Taking a few minutes now could mean a safe, happy holiday celebration.

According to a study published by the National Fire Protection Association, 4 of every 5 Christmas tree fires occurred in December and January. Of the 10 days with the largest shares of Christmas tree fires, none were before Christmas.

  • Electrical problems were factors in one-third (32%) of home Christmas tree structure fires.
  • 12% of home Christmas tree fires involved decorative lights.
  • Candles started 7% of home Christmas tree structure fires.
  • 2 of every 5 (39%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.

Basics

First, there are a few basics that need to handled before those decorations come out of the attic.

  • Make sure your fire alarm is working properly.  Test the alarm and check the batteries.
  • Have at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home.
  • Make sure your fire extinguisher is handy.

Trees

If you love having a fresh tree, make sure it’s really fresh.  Before buying a live Christmas tree, conduct a three-part stress test, recommends Stacey Palosky, a spokesperson with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  A fresh tree has needles that resist being pulled off and do not snap when bent, a trunk bottom that's sticky with resin, and strong limbs that will drop just a few needles if shaken.

  • Place tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Heated rooms dry trees out rapidly, creating fire hazards.
  • 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.

That real looking artificial tree is your choice?  Be sure that the box says fire retardant before you buy.

Lights

What would the holiday be without loads and loads of lights?  While you’re untangling those lights here are a few things to check.

  • Use only lights that have been tested by nationally-recognized laboratories such as UL. decorative indoor and outdoor lights must meet strict requirements.  UL's red holographic label signifies that the light decorations meet safety requirements for indoor and outdoor usage.  UL's green holographic label signifies the lights are safe for indoor use only.
  • Check outdoor lights for labels showing that the lights have been certified for outdoor use, and only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.
  • Look at each set of lights for damage.  Discard decorative light sets with broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.

Candles

The soft glow if candles is almost required during the holidays.  Before you set out enough candles to blaze a path for Santa's sleigh, here are some things to consider.

  • Keep buring candles in sight.  Extinguish all candles before you go to bed, leave the room, or leave the house.
  • Put burning candles on a heat resistant, stable surface.  Chose a place where Kids and pets cannot reach or knock over burning candles.  Lit candles should also be placed away from flammable items - trees, decorations, surtains, and furniture.   

Fireplaces 

A cozy, mesmerizing fire is just the ticket for the holiday.  Let’s be safe with the fire, too.

Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace area.

  • Check to see that flue is open.
  • Keep a screen before the fireplace all the time a fire is burning.
  • Use care with “fire salts” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals which can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation or vomiting if eaten. Keep away from children.

Children & Pets

During the holidays, just about everything is intriguing to children and pets.  Doing some child and pet proofing will save everyone some grief during this season.

  • Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws' reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage if chewed or swallowed.
  • Seasonal plants can also cause intestinal upset for both children and pets.  Avoid decorating with holly berries, mistletoe, and varieties of lilies.  Accoring to Michael Wahl, M.D. and Medical Director of the Illinois Poison Center, Poinsettias are not poisonous. 

“That's not to say they're harmless. If a child eats enough poinsettia leaves (say five), he may become nauseated or throw up. But he's not going to die. And he's probably not going to eat more than one or two bites in the first place because the leaves are ‘reported to have an unpleasant taste,’ Wahl says.”

We wish you and yours holidays filled with the warmth and wonder of the season.  As always, if you have questions about your insurance coverage, adding policies, or would like to have your policies reviewed we are here for you.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us