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From the Archive: Holiday Safety in the Home

by Jason Adams

When I was younger, my family would gather at my grandparents’ home every December 24 to celebrate Christmas together. Each year the house would be filled with the smells of a dozen different dishes being prepared in my grandmother’s kitchen and the soft sound

of Gene Autry crooning “Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer” from the old record/eight track player that my grandfather bought for a “steal” right after tape players officially replaced both. The Christmas tree would sit quietly in the corner, glowing brightly, as hundreds of tiny bulbs winked on and off in unison. The presents, stacked neatly underneath, were wrapped with colorful paper and shining ribbon that would later litter the floor with help from a dozen little hands.

The holidays should always be a time for family, friends, and memories, both old and new. Part of ensuring that those memories are fond ones is taking the time to make your home safe. Below are some safety tips to keep in mind during the holiday season:

  • Never burn evergreens or wreaths in your fireplace or woodstove. In their dry condition, these items may burn very quickly and flare out of control. It is also not a good idea to burn wrapping paper because it often contains metallic materials that are toxic when burned.

  • Never use lighted candles near trees, decorative greenery, curtains, or other potentially flammable materials.

  • Holiday greenery can add a decorative touch to your home during the holidays, but it can also be dangerous if young children are present. Children may confuse the berries or leaves of these plants, which can cause severe stomach problems, with edible items. Keep all greenery out of children’s reach. Plants to watch for include: mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry, and amaryllis.

  • When choosing a live tree try to get one as fresh as possible. Signs that a tree is fresh include: green needles that bend, not break, and are attached firmly to the limb and a trunk that is sticky with sap. Keep the tree watered and make sure that it stands away from fireplaces, radiators, or other heat sources. A 6’ tree will use one gallon of water every two days.

  • If you use an artificial tree, choose one that has been tested and is labeled fire resistant. Artificial trees with built in electrical lights should have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label.

  • Do not block doors or the flow of foot traffic with your tree.

  • Only use indoor lights on your tree or in your home. Outdoor lights should only be used outside. Be sure to turn off all lights and decorations when you go to bed or leave your house.

  • Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Repair or replace any damaged light sets. Avoid overloading outlets or extension cords and never use indoor extension cords outside.

Following these simple guidelines will help protect you and your family and ensure that your holiday is a happy one filled with joy, peace, and laughter.


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