Keep safety in mind when decorating for the holidays


Special to The PREVIEW

Decorations help make the holiday season a magical time of year. Stores are awash in color and twinkling lights, and similar imagery is on display in private homes.

Designing holiday displays can be a great way for families to spend time together and kick off the celebration. In fact, according to Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), around 90 percent of Americans decorate their homes for the holidays.

When trimming the tree and decorating this holiday season, families must keep safety in mind. A little planning and some precautionary measures can ensure displays are enjoyed all season long.

Travelers Insurance offers the following holiday decorating safety tips:

• Do not overload outlets. Plan displays according to the number and location of available outlets.

• Never exceed the maximum number of light strands that can be attached together.

• Use lights and products that have been tested for safety. Certification marks like UL, ETL and CSA are from nationally recognized laboratories.

• LED lights should be used whenever possible. Such lights consume less energy and run cooler than other bulbs.

• The ESFI says candles start almost 50 percent of all decoration fires. Minimize the risk by using candles only when they can be monitored. Artificial candles can be used in place of real candles.

• Check for freshness in live trees. A fresh tree will last longer and is less of a fire hazard than an old tree.

• Place Christmas trees at least 3 feet away from all heat sources, including fireplaces and heaters.

• Use decorations that are noncombustible or made from flame-resistant materials.

• Pay attention to the age recommendations of decorations to see if they can be used in homes with young children. Some items, however common, are choking or strangulation hazards.

• Avoid putting small, “mouth-sized” decorations near the ground or on lower limbs of trees, where young children can easily reach them.

• Exercise caution when hanging decorations at high heights. Make sure the ladder is secured and have a spotter who can hold the ladder and pass items up safely.

• Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs.

• Exercise caution when decorating near power lines that extend to the house.

• Keep hung stockings far away from open flames so they do not catch any errant embers.

These are just a few suggestions for decorating a safely for the holiday season.