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Homeowner How-To

Tips For a Safe Holiday Season

December 14, 2015

Christmas Tree near fireplace

What’s not to love about the holidays?  With the joyous cheer and the season of giving, it’s hard to not have a happy holiday. Unfortunately, approximately 8,000 accidents occur as a result of holiday decorating. To keep you and your family safe, we've compiled as list of tips to help you stay merry this holiday season! 

Christmas trees: Traditionally the natural Christmas tree is favored over an artificial one. Whichever you choose, there are a few safety tips you should consider. If you are a traditionalist and love a natural tree, try to choose the freshest tree as possible because the needles bend rather than break off on a fresh tree. Also, keeping the tree healthy is important. To do this make sure to cut off an inch or two off the trunk, which allows the tree to easily soak up water. Always consider the placement of your tree and choose the location carefully.  Be sure to keep your tree away from fireplaces, space heaters, and radiators. While a fireplace gives off a beautiful effect on a tree, the two together can cause a grim situation. Now, if you are modern and love your artificial tree, don’t forget to buy a tree that is fire resistant. While it’s convenient to buy a tree with lights already strung on it, be sure to note if it is Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved. This approval will state whether the lights are wired properly.

Cooking: You should be aware of the dangers of leaving unattended stove while cooking. During the holidays, it's easy for a cook to become distracted while in the kitchen.  Here's a helpful hint!  When cooking, carry a pot holder even when leaving the kitchen. The pot holder will indicate to your brain that you’re in the process of cooking and that you need to get back to it. We always recommend that every kitchen should have an easily accessible fire extinguisher. Do you know how to use an extinguisher? If not, now is a very good time to brush up on how to use it. To help keep your mind at ease, use the acronym PASS:

               Pull pin

               Aim at base of flame

               Squeeze handle

               Sweep from side to side until the fire is out

Lights: While these are beautiful to look at, they pose many safety concerns. A faulty string of lights on a Christmas tree can be the cause to a disastrous situation.  Try to remember to buy lights that are approved by a reputable lab, such as UL. Please note that even approved lights can be dangerous if damaged. One of the worst parts of having a string of lights is when one or two bulbs are dead. When you replace a bulb, be sure to unplug the strand from the outlet. It is recommended that you don’t link more than three strands of lights together, unless it indicated in the instructions otherwise. It’s imperative to note that you should connect lights to a circuit that is safe with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). You can also use a cord that houses a GFCI into it. In regards to outdoor lights, never use metal fasteners or nails. These can damage the wiring, which can cause a fire. Always try to use plastic clips or hooks. These are available at most hardware stores. Don’t forget to turn off your lights when you go to bed and take down your lights within 90 days.

Candles: Candles are always a nice touch to personalize a home, but they can need to be used with caution. According to the National Fire Protection Association, December is the leading month for fires caused by a lit candle. Christmas/Christmas Eve and New Year’s/New Year’s Eve are the most hazardous days of the year for residential candle fires. To help prevent this, keep in mind the placement of a candle. Always chose a sturdy surface to put your candle on and keep away from flammable decorations. Never leave your lit candle unattended and always keep away from children and pets.

On behalf of the Eastwood family, we wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday!

Decorating, Kitchens

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