The holidays are all about decorations, lights and giving. But without some basic precautions, all those electric lights and candles can become safety hazards for you and your family. Here are a few quick and easy tips to help ensure a safe holiday season.
- Make sure that all indoor and outdoor lights are certified by CSA International, UL, or ELT.
- Inspect all bulbs, wires and plugs for fraying, cracks and loose connections before hanging.
- Replace broken or burnt out bulbs, and make sure to use the proper voltage and wattage.
- When hanging outdoor lighting, keep all electrical connections away from the ground, water, and metal rain gutters.
- Only use outdoor outlets with weatherproof ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI), and never connect more than one extension cord together.
- Use insulated fasteners, insulated tape or plastic clips rather than metal nails or tacks to avoid damaging lighting cords. Never remove lights from their fasteners by pulling on the wires.
- Don’t overload circuits, extension cords or outlets by plugging in too many lights in one place.
- Chairs and stools are not for climbing. Use a safety-rated ladder when reaching for high up places.
- Turn off holiday lights before going to bed or leaving the house to avoid potential accidents, short circuits and fires.
Trees and Ornaments
- Dry, dead trees are highly combustible. Trees should be freshly cut and well watered, with needles that don’t pull away easily or break when bent. Cut the bottom of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption and keep the tree’s water stand filled.
- Artificial trees should be CSA certified, made from fire-resistant materials and should never be metallic if used with electric lights.
- Keep all trees away from high traffic areas, doorways and heat sources like fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters.
- Keep candles and other open flames out of reach from children and pets, and away from trees, wreaths, paper decorations, drapes, and any other flammable objects.
- Ornaments, poinsettias and trimmings—especially sharp, breakable, small or older decorations that may contain lead paint—should be kept at least 6 inches from the reach of small children and pets.
- Consider avoiding tinsel altogether, as it can easily fall to the floor and become a choking hazard.
- The more visible your gifts are from the street, the more tempting your home may be to burglars.
- Keep presents out of plain sight by closing window blinds, especially at night or when you’re not home. Boxes should be broken down, turned inside out and placed in a trash or recycling container.
- Running lights through a partially open window creates an obvious access point into your home for burglars.
- Make sure that you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every level in your home and near sleeping areas. Test monthly and use fresh batteries when needed.