Tip/Thought of the Day

Tips For Safe Holiday Decorating

It’s time to deck the halls! There is nothing quite like adding a holiday touch to our homes and work spaces with holiday decor. Lights, garland, trees, maybe even 10-foot displays of Santa Claus and reindeer on the roof! However you choose to brighten up your space, here are some reminders to keep you safe while you spread holiday cheer.

  • Tip Hazard: If you’ve ever seen young children around holiday decorations, you know that the first thing they do is reach for everything within their realm. Keeping decor out of their reach can be tough- and sometimes you have to get creative to be able to enjoy the seasonal decorations and keep everybody safe.

christmas tree protected.jpg

Keeping Christmas Trees, or any decor that can tip, away from small hands and paws can be as easy as adding a fence or baby gate around the item. Or, try placing the items on surfaces that are high enough that they are away from curious children and pets. Incorporating the safety measure into the decor, like in the image, is a great way to check all the boxes of safety and enjoying the space.

  • Power Strips: If you’re like me, my house never has enough outlets to manage all the decorations. Power strips easily solve the problem, if they’re used with caution. Check that you aren’t overloading the power strip with too many items that draw a lot of energy (the packaging and the strip itself should say how much load it can take).
power strip
Overloaded power strips can be serious fire hazards

Never attach one power strip to another one. If you’ve run out of space on the outlet or on power strips, consider relocating decorations, or cutting back on the decor that requires power, to avoid a fire hazard. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that each year, about 4,000 injuries associated with electric extension cords are treated in hospital emergency rooms. Injuries due to fires, electrical shocks, etc. aren’t the only reason for injury; keep cords and power strips out of walkways, or areas where they are unexpected and could cause somebody to trip or fall. If you need power sources outside, make sure to use something that is made for the outdoors, as indoor cords cannot withstand weather conditions.

  • Delicate and Small Decor Can Be Dangerous: There are so many options for holiday decor. If you have small children or pets, consider purchasing shatter proof ornaments and decorations to avoid the risk of items falling and breaking.  If you have ever owned a crafty cat, you know that Christmas Trees loaded with beautiful glass ornaments are somehow incredibly enticing for felines.

Christmas Tree GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Adults can appreciate the intricate details that go into some decorations, but tiny pieces can be choking hazards for children and animals. To avoid unnecessary worry or injury, consider stashing the smaller pieces when pets or small children are holiday participants.

  • Consider Your Animal Companions: Animals are part of our families, and as such, we want to keep them as safe as any other member.  Veterinarians agree that holiday decor can be a red-flag zone for pets. Here are a few holiday decor items that can be dangerous for pets:
  1. Tinsel- Tinsel is one of the worst tree trimming items for pets. This is because it can cause a serious intestinal blockage when consumed. Avoid tinsel and all string-like decorations, including curling ribbon.
  2. Poisonous plants- Holly is a toxin along with mistletoe, amaryllis, poinsettias, and lilies. Stick to the silk or plastic variety for an equally festive table display. As for the Christmas tree, cover the tree stand since additives in the water can be poisonous to your pet.
  3. Candles- Candles are a great way to add to the holiday atmosphere. Unfortunately, singed whiskers and burnt tails are a definite risk when pets are involved. Either keep them far away from reach, or consider the battery powered variety.
  4. Lights- Stringed lights, as well as cords, can cause strangulation or electric shock if your pet chews on them. Bundle up loose cords with protective plastic covers, and hang stringed lights out of your pet’s reach.
  5. Edible items- Pets always seem to be able to sniff out where the food is. Keep an eye on any decor that has candy in it (like advent calendars, candy canes, and stockings).
  • Dispose of Dry Christmas Trees: If you opt for a live Christmas tree, as opposed to an artificial one, keeping it watered is part of the experience. Watch the video below to see the difference in how quickly a tree can fuel a fire in your home if it is not watered.

Regardless of whether the holiday season has yet passed, dispose of the tree if it is dry. Check your local trash and recycling services for bulk/brush pickup dates or seek out one of the many tree recycling spots available after the holidays (we’ll post links for tree disposals once they are available for the Tucson area). If it seems like too much to take on the maintenance of the tree, consider an artificial tree. They are available in every tree variety imaginable, and you can box it up and save it for the next year when the season has passed.

  • Outdoor Decor Safety: It wouldn’t be quite the same without adding a few (or many) strings of lights to the outside of our homes. “About 200 people a day suffer decoration-related injuries this time of year,” says Patty Davis, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a governmental agency that seeks to safeguard people from consumer-product related risks. When using ladders or step stools to reach high spaces, make sure they are stable, and don’t over reach to add one final touch.Taking the time to get down, move, and stabilize the ladder could mean the difference between being able to enjoy a job well done, or spending the afternoon in the emergency room.

When hanging lights, use proper fasteners to attach them to the surfaces you choose. Damaged wiring is one of the biggest culprits of fires. Avoid using staple guns, nails, or any other fastener directly into the wiring of lights or power cords, which can create a dangerous electrical situation.

People have suffered more than just bumps and bruises from decorating mishaps. Broken bones, head injuries, strangulation, and even death can all occur when decorating for the holidays. Take a few extra moments to protect yourself and your family- it can make all the difference in keeping the holiday season safe and beautiful.

dsc_0323    –Dr. Courtney

Sources:

-community.nfpa.org/community/nfpa-today/blog/2018/04/20/nfpa-1-electrical-fire-safety-and-relocatable-power-taps-power-strips-firecodefridays

-publicsafety.tufts.edu/ehs/files/October2014.VI2-ExtensionAndPowerStripSafety.pdf

-newhavenpethospital.com/blog/worst-holiday-decorations-for-pets/

-health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/12/03/dont-fall-for-christmas-lights-illuminating-safety-in-holiday-decorating

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