Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

Denise GillinRisk Management

By Reginald Shubert, Senior Risk Control Consultant, Murray

The Holiday season is upon us, and it’s a great time for parties with family, friends, and coworkers.  As the song goes, it’s time to “deck those halls and trim those trees,” but, you don’t have to be Clark Griswald and overdo your holiday decorations. Not only can it be a little tacky, it can also lead to an unsafe environment in your home or office.

Seasonal decorations, including lights, trees, and wreaths can help put your home or office in the holiday spirit. However, when not displayed properly, decorations can create safety hazards or cause fires.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 43% of home Christmas tree fires. Between 2012-2016, home fires started by Christmas trees cost $12 million in direct property damage annually. Two of every five (40%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den. Three-quarters of the fatalities and two-thirds of the associated injuries resulted from fires started in this area.

Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

By taking the proper precautions both inside and outside of your home or business, you can prevent hazards and focus on friends and family during the holidays. Keep your employees and your family safe during the holiday season by following these holiday decoration safety tips:

  • Choose holiday decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Hang ceiling decorations away from sprinklers and fire alarms.
  • Keep lit candles away from sprinklers and fire alarms.
  • Never leave a candle flame unattended.
  • Refrain from placing extension cords in high-traffic areas of your workplace, or under rugs, carpets, or furniture.
  • Use the right ladder when hanging lights and other decorations.
  • Check the ladder to make sure it is not in a broken or deteriorated condition as both of these factors can make working at heights even more dangerous.

Holiday Light Safety Tips

  • Check your holiday lights to see if they are for outdoor or indoor use and use them appropriately.
  • Use lights that have been tested for safety by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as UL or ETL/ITSNA.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Plug outside lighting into GFCI outlet to help prevent electric shock or electrocution.
  • Always turn off holiday lights before leaving the office or home and before going to bed.

Christmas Tree Safety Tips

  • Look for the “Fire Resistant” label when purchasing an artificial tree.
  • Choose a live Christmas tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Place the tree at least three feet away from any heat source like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Position the tree away from any exits or doorways.
  • Add water to the tree stand and water the tree daily.
  • Remove live trees from the office or home when they are dry; dry trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home, office, or garage.
  • Check with your local community for Christmas tree disposal or recycling programs.
  • Take down lights after the holidays to prevent breakage and keep them in good use for years to come.

 Holiday Entertaining Safety Tips

The holidays are also a time for entertaining in the office and at home. Below are additional tips to have a safe holiday event at your home or office:

  • Keep children, pets and flammable materials away from lit candles.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking to keep a close eye on the process and the food.
  • Move items that can catch fire, such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food wrappers, or towels away from the cooking area.
  • Make sure kids stay at least three feet away from the stove and oven, hot food, and liquids.
  • Set up a deep turkey deep-fryer on a flat, level surface at least 10 feet from your home or office building.

Safely decorating your home or business during the holiday season requires a bit of extra time, but it is well worth the effort.

The team at Murray wishes you a safe and happy holiday!

If you have questions, contact: Reginald at 484.571.8876.

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