The holidays are supposed to be fun and we want them to be safe.
I’ve compiled a holiday safety checklist to get you started and keep you and your family safe. I know most of the list is common sense, but look it over and at least use it as a reminder.
· Always buy a fresh cut, healthy tree. You can check by looking and feeling. The tree must be green, the bark moist and green, and the needles should bend and not break when you bend them.
· Run your hand down a branch. If the tree is fresh, some needles will fall off but only a few.
· Tug on a few needles; they should be difficult to pull off from the branches.
· Bend a few branches; if they snap off or crack, the tree is too dry and won’t last.
· When you get the tree home, cut a few inches off the bottom of the trunk at an angle so the tree can absorb more water.
· Set the tree in a sturdy tree stand. Make sure the base or legs are sturdy to keep the tree stable so that it will not tip over, which can pose a danger to children and small pets.
· The stand should be able to hold a lot of water and the water should be checked and maintained. A six-foot tree requires approximately one-gallon of water every other day.
· Do not place the tree next to, or close to fireplaces, heaters, radiators, heat registers or candles.
· Never place the tree in front of a doorway or in the path of any exit source in case of an emergency.
· If you use, or are planning on buying an artificial tree, make sure it is fire resistant. Don’t take the salesman word for it, check the label.
· Install a smoke/fire detector as well as an ABC fire extinguisher in the room with the tree.
· Ribbons and tinsel are a big temptation for small children, cats and dogs. It can wreak havoc in the pet’s intestines or stomach. Small children also love the shiny tinsel and bows on presents and need to be supervised or the tree needs to be barricaded with some type of gate or fencing for safety measures.
· Poinsettias are a common household Christmas plant, but toxic to little ones and pets. The sap from the leaves may cause vomiting and skin irritation. Avoid placing it where pets and children may reach it.
· Christmas Mistletoe is also a favorite to hang where people can kiss under it. Hanging it high up is best as the berries from this plant are highly toxic for children and pets. Remove the berries for the best safety precautions.
· Only use UL listed labeled lights and cords.
· Never use electrical lights on a metal tree.
· Before using any and all holiday lights, inspect all connections and cords. Look for cracked, brittle or frayed wiring or cords.
· Do not coil or tie extension cords when in use. They could overheat.
· Inspect all lights for broken or damaged sockets.
· Make sure the bulbs work and are not loose of missing.
· Never use indoor extension cords, outdoors.
· Never lay cords under carpets or across walks or steps.
· Outdoor light sets should be marked “waterproof”.
· Never shorten or splice light sets.
· Make sure all outside lights are plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter (G.F.C.I.) outlet.
· Do not overload electrical outlets. If you are trying to use dozens of light sets, plug them into different outlets on different circuits.
· Turn off, or better yet, unplug all tree lights and decorations when going to bed or leaving the house.
· Have your fireplace and chimney professionally cleaned and inspected to remove creosote.
· Never use a fireplace without a screen to protect against sparks and ashes.
· Never use gasoline or barbeque starter fluid to start a fire in a fireplace.
· Keep all combustibles including, gifts, paper, furniture and holiday stockings away the fireplace and mantle when using a fire.
· Install a smoke and carbon monoxide detector in a room with a fireplace.
· Burn only clean, dry firewood.
· Never put lit candles in windows.
· Never put candles within reach of small children.
· Do not leave a room with candles burning.
· Do not use candles in children’s rooms or on Christmas trees.