Be safe this holiday season with these tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Many artiﬁcial trees are ﬁre resistant. If you buy one, look for a statement specifying this protection. A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a ﬁre hazard than a dry tree. To check for freshness, remember:
- A fresh tree is green and fresh needles are hard to pull from branches.
- When bent between your ﬁngers, fresh needles do not break.
- The trunk of a fresh tree is sticky with resin.
- When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles shows that tree is too dry.
- 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.
- Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways. Use thin guide wires to secure a large tree to walls or ceiling. These wires are almost invisible.
Artiﬁcial snow sprays can irritate lungs if inhaled. To avoid injury, read container labels and follow directions carefully.
Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
- Always use non-ﬂammable holders.
- Keep candles away from other decorations and wrapping paper.
- Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over.
- Never leave candles unattended.
Before lighting any ﬁre, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from ﬁreplace area.
- Check to see that the flue is open.
- Keep a screen before the fireplace anytime 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.
When making paper decorations, look for materials labeled non-combustible or ﬂame-resistant.
- Never place trimming near open ﬂames or electrical connections.
- Remove all wrapping papers from tree and ﬁreplace areas immediately after presents are opened.
- Do not burn papers in the ﬁreplace. A ﬂash ﬁre may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
Use only non-combustible or ﬂame-resistant materials. Wear gloves while decorating with spun glass “angel hair” to avoid irritation to eyes and skin. Choose tinsel or artiﬁcial icicles or plastic or non- leaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children. 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. Pieces could be swallowed or inhaled.
- Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food. A child could eat them!
Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the label from an independent testing laboratory.
- Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets or repair them before using.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house, walls or other ﬁrm support to protect from wind damage.
- Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
- Turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Lights could short and start a ﬁre.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
- The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and any person touching a branch could be electrocuted! To avoid this danger, use colored spotlights above or beside a tree, never fastened onto it!
- Keep “bubbling” lights away from children. These lights with their bright colors and bubbling movement can tempt curious children to break candle-shaped glass, which can cut, and attempt to drink liquid, which contains a hazardous chemical.
General Rules for Holiday Safety
- Keep matches, lighters, and candles out of the reach of children.
- Avoid smoking near ﬂammable decorations.
- Make an emergency plan to use if a ﬁre breaks out anywhere in the home. See that each family member knows what to do. PRACTICE THE PLAN!
- Avoid wearing loose ﬂowing clothes— particularly long, open sleeves—near open ﬂames - such as those of a ﬁreplace, stove, or candlelit table.
- Never burn candles near evergreens. Burning evergreens in the ﬁreplace can also be hazardous. When dry, greens burn like tinder. Flames can ﬂare out of control, and send sparks ﬂying into a room, or up the chimney to ignite creosote deposits.
- Plan for safety. Remember, there is no substitute for common sense. Look for and eliminate potential danger spots near candles, ﬁreplaces, trees, and/or electrical connections.