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10 Tips to Avoid a Holiday Decorating Disaster This Season

Your holiday wish list shouldn’t include a trip to the hospital. Get our tips to help you light up your house, trim the tree, and relax by an open fire, without worrying about injuries to you, your children, or your pets.

Christmas Trees

  1. Picking the perfect tree.  Before buying a live Christmas tree, conduct a three part stress test.  A fresh tree has needles that resist being pull and do not snap when bent, a trunk bottom that sticky with resin, and strong limbs that will drop just a few needles if shaken.
  2. Don’t position a live Christmas tree next to fireplaces, heating ducts or radiators.  Also do not place them where they block doorways or high traffic areas.  Remember that artificial trees might say “fire resistant” but can still go up in flames.
  3. Hang your ornaments with extra care.  Keep kids and pets in mind by placing unbreakable and non-toxic ornaments on the lowest areas of the Christmas tree.  Replace metal hooks with ribbon or string to prevent choking and injury.
  4. A dry tree will burn faster than a well-watered one.  Check the water level daily and keep it in a vessel that can hold a good amount of water.  A good way to test if your tree is getting enough water is to give a branch a gentle tug and see if any needles break.
  5. After Christmas when you take down the tree make sure that you give the area a thorough inspection.  Broken glass ornaments, metal hooks, electrical cords and pine needles can harm children and pets.

Outdoor Christmas Lights

  1. When hanging lights and decorations on your house use a ladder extending a minimum of three feet over the roofline or working are.  Always make sure that your ladder is on firm level ground and use your leg levelers if you’re on an incline.  Your ladder should be able to carry your weight and whatever you are carrying.
  2. Use the proper outlet.  The source of power should come from a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet.  This kind of outlet will shut the circuit down if there is overcurrent.  If you don’t have a GFCI outlet, a qualified technician can permanently install one outdoors for years to come.  You can also buy a portable one from a hardware store for less than twenty bucks.
  3. Read labels for lights and other wired decorations to make sure that you’re using acceptable wattage levels.  If your decorations are connected by a tangle of extension cords and power strips you may be overloading the circuits.
  4. Check all lights and decorations for damage.  Frayed or bare wires, cracked sockets, and loose connections can be hazardous and may pose a fire or shock threat.
  5. Don’t let your blowups blow away.  Your cute inflatable Santa and his reindeer on your front lawn can easily become a dangerous object if not secured.  Read manufacturer’s instructions to secure it correctly.  It’s best to shut off any fan blowers when it’s windy, at bedtime, and when you’re not going to be home for long periods of time.