Decorating for the holidays is a tradition for many and fun for all! I love getting those boxes down and pulling out all my holiday decorations. It always brings back warm memories of where they came from, how long I’ve had them, how old my kids were when I got this or that. Warm fuzzies all around! And nothing gets me in the holiday mood quicker than putting things out, decorating the tree, seeing lights on houses, and smelling good smells coming from the kitchen!
But it seems like every holiday season there are stories on the news about families who lost their Christmas, their homes, or even loved ones because of simple safety rules that were overlooked or ignored. Here are some reminders of things to be careful of and to be mindful of as you decorate for the holidays.
Lights and Electricity:
Be sure you purchase electric lights and equipment from a reputable vendor and check labels for safety certification–that UL assurance. When you unpack last season’s lights, be sure to check cords and bulbs for any damage before you put them up and/or plug them in. If you find broken bulbs or exposed wires, toss that string! Invest in a timer to prevent lights from staying on too long. Be sure to unplug when you leave and before you go to bed. And be careful about overloading plugs and/or extension cords with too many plugs–that’s a potential fire hazard and can also cause electrical damage that can increase your electric bill!
If you love the look and smell of a real tree, be sure to keep it well watered! In warm homes, trees “drink” water a lot faster, so refill them daily to keep them fresh and soft–a dried out tree is a much greater fire hazard than one that is well-hydrated! And if you have an artificial tree, be sure to choose one labeled fire-resistant and use non-flammable decorations and trimmings.
NEVER leave burning candles unattended! Keep them out of the way and especially out of the reach of children and pets. It goes without saying that candles should always be extinguished when you leave the house or go to bed. And be careful that hot wax drippings don’t damage floors and/or furniture or cause burns.
Be sure that all exterior decorations, extension cords, lights are designed and approved for outdoor use. Keep electric objects away from snow (not usually a problem in South Texas!) and water. As with your indoor decorations, inspect everything for damage before you install, hang, turn on–and take appropriate precautions when using ladders to put up all the lights! Remember also to check your GFCI plugs outside to be sure they’re working properly.
Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to be sure they’re working correctly–change batteries if you didn’t do it when Daylight Savings time ended in November. And just to be extra safe, prepare and emergency plan and be sure family and houseguests know what to do in case of an emergency. Keep fabrics away from heaters, candles, and other heat sources. And if you have young children in your home–or visiting for the holidays–childproof electrical outlets!
If you have holiday plants in the house, such as holly, poinsettias, mistletoe, be sure to keep them away from your pets. Many holiday plants are not safe for kitties and dogs who may injest them. And that goes for little ones too–keep plants up and away! And remember not to feed your pets all the holiday goodies!
Use common sense and follow these precautions and you’ll have a safe, happy, and decorative holiday! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to you and yours!