This time of year, many of us our decking our halls and making merry, but The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission wants people to remember that the trees and lights that make our homes so jolly can also be safety hazards.
Every year in the U.S. there are about 300 Christmas tree fires, resulting in 10 deaths and $10 million in property damage and loss, the CPSC said, and hospital ERs treat more than 12,500 people annually for falls, cuts, shocks, and burns due to incidents involving faulty holiday lights, dried-out Christmas trees and other holiday decorations.
The CPSC offers these tips to keep yourself and your home safe this holiday season:
- Make sure artificial trees are labeled “Fire Resistant,” but remember that that doesn’t mean fireproof.
- Make sure live trees are fresh. When tapped on the ground, a fresh tree shouldn’t lose many of its needles.
- When setting up a tree, make sure it’s well away from fireplaces or other heat sources. Do not block doorways or exits from your home.
- Make sure to keep live trees well watered.
- Check each set of light, old or new, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw out damaged sets. Always replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
- Turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
- Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Do not used nails or tacks to hold strings in place.
- Use caution when removing outdoor holiday lights. Never pull or tug on lights – this could cause stress on the connections that could create a fire hazard.