In the perennially popular holiday film A Christmas Story, the family’s home is decked out for the holidays, with the centerpiece being the “Old Man’s” beloved leg lamp in the window … but it’s also the biggest fire hazard in town with its overloaded, sparking outlet!
As you decorate for the holidays and prepare your home for winter, keep safety in mind.
Choose Yule Tree With Care
Using a fresh tree? Do the needle test. Shake the tree and tap it on the ground. If pine needles shower down, the tree’s too dry and can be a fire hazard once lights are strung among its branches.
When you find the perfect tree, cut an inch off the bottom before setting it in water to keep it fresh longer. Check daily to make sure the tree’s still drawing in water and not drying out. If you use an artificial tree, check the tag to make sure it’s fire-resistant.
Don’t Trip the Lights Fantastic
Light labels should say whether they’ve been tested by an independent laboratory for safety. Discard old lights with frayed wires or cracked sockets, and limit the number of sets of lights per extension cord to three (or follow product recommendations). It’s also a good idea to keep extension cords stashed behind heavy furniture, or otherwise concealed from sight, to protect toddlers and pets who might be tempted to pull/chew on them.
Not all extension cords are safe for outdoor use, so be sure to check the label. Also remember that lights on a metallic tree can result in electrocution if there’s a faulty bulb. Finally, turn off lights before leaving the house or going to bed; a short could start a fire.
Remember Safety with a Candle Burning Bright
If you light candles, make sure they are far away from draperies and other decorations, and do not leave them unattended. Make sure they are in a location safe from being knocked over by pets and children (and adults).
If you light a Menorah, follow those same rules, and set it where it’s safe for wax to drip. According to tradition, Hanukkah candles should not be extinguished before they burn down, so light the Menorah near where you’ll be in the house – and not so late that they are still burning when you go to bed.
Batten Down the Hatches, Safely
When buttoning up your home for the long winter months, keep these tips in mind:
- Keep your fireplace and/or wood stove chimney cleaned to prevent creosote build-up – which can trigger a fire. Follow manufacturers’ safety guidelines.
- Have your heating system checked yearly to prevent fires due to faulty systems.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector to warn you of unsafe levels of the dangerous gas. Make sure detectors, both carbon monoxide and smoke, have fresh batteries.
Here’s to a safe and happy holiday season!