By Christy McLeap

According to The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) there are an estimated 15,000 injuries involving holiday decorating each year and that number is steadily rising.

The CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler said,“There are about 250 injuries a day during the holiday season. Adding safety to your checklist can keep a holiday tradition from becoming a holiday tragedy.” “Keep Christmas trees watered well, don’t leave candles unattended, and use caution whenever you are on a ladder.”

Reportedly emergency rooms see the most frequent holiday related incidents involving falls (34%), lacerations (11%) and back strains (10%).

Nationally fire departments respond to an average of around 200 fires during the holidays because of Christmas trees igniting. These incidents result in about 10 deaths, 20 injuries and anywhere up to $16 million in property loss.

Candle-related fires have also caused holiday injuries and damage and have resulted in an estimated 70 deaths, 680 injuries and $308 million in property loss each year.

The CPSC recommends discarding holiday light sets that have evidence of damage; like broken sockets and bare wires to prevent injury.  They also suggest watering your live Christmas trees frequently, and recommends always extinguishing candles before leaving a room.

Here are some safety tips to use as a guide to help prevent decorating disasters and injuries this holiday season:

1. Review and follow the warning labels posted on ladders.

2. If you’re buying a live tree make sure you check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, and has needles that are hard to pull from branches, plus the needles wont break when bent. The bottom of a fresh tree should be sticky, and the tree should not lose many needles when tapped on the ground.

3. Place your Christmas tree away from heat sources, like fireplaces, radiators and vents. 

4. For artificial trees make sure the label says “Fire Resistant.” Even though that doesn’t necessarily mean that the tree will not catch fire, but it does mean the tree is more resistant to catching fire.

5. If you have small children and have decorations, make sure you take the time to avoid sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations. Also avoid trimmings that look like candy or food and that may tempt a child to put in their mouth and possibly swallow them.

6. Keep all lit candles in sight. For safety extinguish all candles before you go to bed, leave the room, or house.

7. Keep candles sitting on a stable and heat-resistant surface. Also place them where kids and pets cannot reach them or knock them over. Don’t place burning candles near any items that can catch fire, such as trees, other evergreens, decorations, curtains and furniture.

8. Make sure you use Christmas lights that have been tested.

9. Check light sets for broken or cracked sockets, frayed wires, or loose connections. 

10. Check extension cords and make sure it’s rated for the intended use and is in good condition. 

11. Check outdoor lights for labels that indicate they have been certified for outdoor use, and only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter, protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.

12. Use extreme caution with “fire salts.” Fire salts are made to produce colored flames when thrown onto wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting, if swallowed. Always keep fire salts away from children.

13. Do not burn wrapping paper in your fireplace. It could cause a flash fire because wrappings can ignite suddenly and burn intensely.


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