The holidays are here! Twinkling lights, Christmas trees and indoor and outdoor decorations are all a special part of celebrating Christmas but you should know that decorating accidents cause thousands of injuries every year. Before you hang your Christmas lights or setup that giant Santa in the yard, you should be aware that about 12,500 people are treated in the emergency room every year for cuts, falls, and electric shocks thanks to holiday decorations. Christmas trees are behind about 300 house/building fires annually, causing 10 deaths, 30 injuries and more than $10 million in property loss and damage. There are some things you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe while still enjoying the festivities.
Tips from the CPSC to Make Your Holidays Safer
Christmas Tree Safety Tips:
- If you choose an artificial tree, it should carry a label saying “fire resistant”. Check for it before making the purchase. This means that the tree is not likely to catch fire and if it did the flames would extinguish quickly.
- If you choose a real tree, be aware of its freshness. A fresh tree has more moisture and is less likely to catch fire. Clues to look for are green needles that do not pull out easily or break easily when bent. The trunk end should be sticky with resin and when you tap it on the ground, needles should not be falling off in high numbers.
- Setup the tree a safe distance from fireplaces or radiators. Keep candles away from the tree.
- A fresh tree should have plenty of water in the base.
- Never block a traffic area or doorway with a tree.
Christmas Lights Safety Tips:
- Buy only lights with fused plugs.
- Every year and before using a new set of lights, check for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Throw out any strands with damage. Replace burned-out bulbs but be sure they are of the same wattage.
- Never use more than three strands of lights (standard size) per extension cord.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree as the tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights and a person could be electrocuted from touching a branch!
- Outdoor lights need to be certified for outdoor use; check the box!
- Fasten outdoor lights securely in place with insulated staples or hooks, not nails or tacks. Light strands flapping around in the wind can become damaged and dangerous.
- Always turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house as the lights could short out and start a fire.
- Plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). If necessary, portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold.
Christmas Decorations Safety Tips:
- Use plastic or non-leaded metal ornaments to trim your tree.
- Although it used to be done, you should never use lit candles as tree decorations.
- If you have small children old enough to grab ornaments off the tree, keep the ones with small, removable parts or that are breakable high up and out of reach.
If you have been injured in a Christmas decorating accident you may be wondering if there is compensation available. The accident lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. will help you determine if you have a legal case and move forward to claim your money. Call us today for a consultation!