Decorate Safely This Holiday Season
Damaged wiring and candles increase fire riskBy Derrill Holly
The holiday season offers great moments for building memories, but when it comes to decorating, it’s also the perfect time to think about safety.
“There are about 200 decorating-related injuries each day during the busy holiday season,” said Ann Marie Buerkle, former commissioner at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The top three days of the year for candle fires in the U.S. are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). One of four Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems.
“It’s important to use common sense when you’re dealing with holiday decorating, particularly with lighting, candles and electrical wiring,” said U.S. Fire Administration Fire Program Specialist Bruce Bouch. “Holiday decorations are designed for temporary use, and that means they are essentially disposable.”
Consider these three basic tips to reduce your risk while decorating:
1 Inspect holiday lights each year before you put them up. Open, exposed wiring or any signs of fraying or pinching are indications of weakened wiring. Those flaws are prone to breakage and may raise the potential for heat buildup, which can cause a fire.
2 Candle use increases the risk of accidental fires. Consider battery-operated LED candles as safer alternatives. Candles start two out of every five home fires each year, according to NFPA, and about 100 Christmas tree fires occureach holiday season, causing about $12 million in damage annually.
3 Reduce the risks by placing your Christmas tree away from heat sources, like vents or space heaters, and topping off the water reservoir daily.
“Make safety a part of your family’s holiday decorating this year,” Buerkle said.
About the AuthorDerrill Holly writes for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
Safe and happy holidays