There’s something about the holidays that gives people a sense that, well, everything is going to be okay. As colder weather forces us indoors into our warm homes, it’s important to take a break from our obsessive concern over cleanliness and examine another topic: safety.
Decorating for the Holidays
As company that specializes in water, Blue Wave generally attempts to avoid any connections (pun intended) between water and electricity. However, each year decorating for the holidays results countless accidents, visits from the fire department, or trips to the emergency room. The reality is that holiday decorating leads to thousands of accidents each year.
It goes without saying that knowing your family is safe and secure is the best holiday gift of all. Here are at few our our favorite tips to keep in mind as you celebrate the season:
Christmas trees one of the most obvious holiday hazards. A Christmas tree is, after all, only a few steps away from becoming actual firewood. One of the biggest safety factors when selecting a Christmas tree is how fresh the tree is. Trees that were recently cut are not as dry as ones that have been cut for several weeks, which means they’ll be harder to catch fire.
Fresh trees have green needles,which are hard to pull off branches and will not break when bent between your fingers. Fresh tress will also have a cut at the bottom that is sticky with resin or sap. One simple trick to try when purchasing a tree is to tap it on the ground: a dry tree will needles easily.
Once you’ve vetted a tree for freshness, keeping the tree well watered in a secure tree stand will help the tree to not dry out as quickly. Winter time means humidity is lower and translates to higher evaporation rates. This means you’ll need to check on your tree’s water level each day and maintain it to prevent your tree from drying out.
Placing your tree in the right location is also a factor in holiday safety. Make sure you keep your tree away from heat sources that may prematurely dry out your tree. In general, you want to avoid placing the tree in high-traffic areas of your home (say where children or dogs might easily knock it over). Many experts recommend carefully selecting decorations for your tree: avoiding heavy ornaments that could make a tree unstable, avoiding ornaments with small parts that children could swallow, or decorations that resemble candy (for obvious reasons).
If you decide on purchasing an artificial tree, be sure to look for a “Fire Resistant” label. This label certainly does not mean that the tree won’t catch on fire, but simply notes that the tree has been coated in a material that helps it resist flames for a longer period of time. It should be noted that many artificial trees (especially pre-lit trees) can be just as much of a fire hazard as a regular Christmas trees.
Who doesn’t love a big, scented jar candle? Rustic ambiance and cranberry scents—we love candles as much as anyone, but using them safely is the most important thing. First, make sure you keep burning candles within sight at all times. This means you never leave a candle burning when you go to bed, leave a room, or leave your house.
Whether it’s tinsel or garland, the sheer number of decorations we put up each year can increase your chances of having a housefire. Keep candles on a stable, heat-resistance service away from children and pets. Pay careful attention to placing candles near your tree, hanging decoration, curtains, and furniture.
What are the holidays without lights? We’d recommend avoiding a Clark Griswold-style display since it is easy go overboard with Christmas lights. Most retailers typically only sell lights that have been tested by a nationally recognized laboratory (such as UL); these laboratories test products to make sure they meet strict requirements for indoor or outdoor use. Be sure to also select appropriate lights for your application — indoor lights for indoors and outdoor lights for outdoor.
UL uses holographic labels to denote the indoor or outdoor status of different lights. If you see red a holographic UL label, this signifies that the product meets safety standards for indoor and outdoor usage. UL’s green holographic label signifies that the product should only be used indoors.
If you’re using lights from last year, be sure to check for cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. If you see lights, new or old, that are damaged, it’s typically better to play it safe and throw them away.
Using the correct extension cords and outlets also matters. You need to ensure that extension cords are rated for the correct amperage for your application. Only plug in lights to a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-protected receptacle a portable GFCI.
Normal fireplace safety rules apply. One thing to be careful of us the use of “fire salts,” which produce colored flames in a fire. Often times these salts contain heavy metals, which can cause gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if swallowed.
And, not that would should have to remind you, but do not burn wrapping paper in your fire place. Wrapping paper is incredibly flammable and can ignite suddenly.
Stay Safe This Season
Blue Wave hopes you enjoy the holidays this year and, above all else, stay safe this holiday season.