Christmas Safety Tips
--Christmas trees that are not kept moist can present a very serious
fire hazard. A dried out Christmas tree can be totally consumed by
fire in less than 30 seconds. Most trees sold have been cut upstate
and have been drying out since they were harvested, which could have
been as late as mid-November. Take special precautions when buying
your Christmas tree. Trees with brown shedding needles should be
rejected. If the tree looks green and fresh, take a long needle and
bend it between your thumb and forefinger. If it snaps, the tree is
too dry. Look for trees with needles that bend. When the trunk of a
tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles shows that
tree is dry.
--When you bring a tree home, cut about an inch off the end of the
trunk. This will remove the dried end and allow the tree to absorb
water. Make checkerboard cuts into the base at different angles to
make a greater surface for water absorption.
--Always turn off lights on trees and other decorations when you go
to bed or leave your home. A short circuit in any of this equipment
could cause a fire. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
Damaged insulation in lighting on a metallic tree could cause the
entire tree to be charged with electricity. To avoid this danger,
use colored spotlights above or beside a metal tree, never fastened
--Keep children away from light sets and electrical decorations. All
lights present the problem of shock and casualty hazards for curious
kids. When you are stringing the lights on your tree, be careful how
you place them. Keep all bulbs turned away from gifts and paper
ornaments. Lights in windows can cause curtains and drapes to ignite.
--Candles are a traditional and beautiful part of the season. But they
are still a direct source of fire in your home. Keep candles a safe
distance from other things. And remember that a flickering flame is
a thing of fascination to little children. Keep candles out of their
--Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always
use non-flammable holders. Keep candles away from other decorations
and wrapping paper. Place candles where they cannot be knocked down
or blown over.
--Dispose of gift wrappings soon after opening presents. A room full
of paper lying around on the floor is just one more holiday hazard.
Place trash in an approved container. Do not burn wrappings in the
fireplace. They may ignite suddenly and cause a flash fire.
--One of the best Christmas gifts you can get someone is a smoke
detector. A smoke detector is worth so much, possibly a loved one's
life, yet so inexpensive. Over 90 percent of fire deaths occur in
residential dwellings between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. when occupants are
asleep. Smoke detectors alert occupants when a fire is still small
and there is still time to escape.
--Holly and mistletoe can be fatal to a small child and the smaller
the child, the smaller the dose that can cause serious medical
problems. Poinsettia leaves are not fatal if swallowed, but can
cause a skin rash and an upset stomach. Call 9-1-1 if your children
ingest any of these holiday plants.
Trimming The Tree
--When choosing the finishing touches for decorating your tree, purchase
tinsel or artificial icicles of a non-leaded material. Leaded materials
may be hazardous if eaten by children or pets.
--Avoid any decorations that tend to break easily or have sharp edges.
Keep tree trimmings that are small or have removable parts out of the
reach of your child. These pieces may be swallowed.
--Use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by
the UL label from Underwriters Laboratories or another reputable
testing agency. Check each set of lights for broken or cracked
sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections.
--Check labels of lights to be used outdoors to see that they are
suitable for outdoor use. Never use indoor lights outside. Fasten
outdoor lights securely to trees, walls or other firm support to
protect them from wind damage. Use no more than three sets of lights
per single extension. Read the manufacturer's instructions carefully
and do not use more than the recommended number of lights in one circuit.