Political News

Tips for Safe Holiday Decorating

Posted November 28, 2007 6:28 p.m. EST
Updated December 1, 2007 2:32 p.m. EST

Dried-out Christmas trees are involved in about 200 fires each year, a government agency said Wednesday, reminding people that safety is a key component of planning for holiday decorating.

Every November and December about 10,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to holiday decorating, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This includes burns, falls, shocks and cuts.

The agency estimates that more than 14,000 fires and about 170 deaths are caused throughout the year by candle-related incidents.

Getting into the holiday spirit, the CPSC offered these decorating safety tips:

- Look for a label that says "fire resistant" before buying an artificial tree.

- Before buying a live tree, check for green needles that are difficult to pull from the branches, don't break when bent and don't fall off when the tree is tapped on the ground. The tree's bottom should be sticky with resin.

- Place trees away from fireplaces, radiators and heavy traffic areas in homes.

- For fresh trees, keep the stands filled with water.

- Decorate trees with noncombustible or flame-resistant materials.

- Don't use artificial icicles made with lead, which is hazardous if ingested by young children.

- Wear gloves when decorating spun glass made to resemble angel hair.

- Follow directions when using artificial snow sprays, which can irritate lungs if used improperly.

- Households with young children should avoid ornaments with small removable parts that could pose a choking hazard.

- Keep candles away from decorations and furniture that can easily catch fire, as well as children and pets. And keep burning candles in sight.

- Use nonflammable candle holders.

- Use newer lights with thick wiring that have been tested by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Throw out lights with broken or cracked sockets, loose connections, and frayed or bare wires.

- Make sure outdoor lights have been certified for outdoor use.

- Don't use extension cords unless they are rated for the intended lighting use.

- Never use lights on a metallic tree. This could pose an electrocution hazard if branches become charged with electricity.

- Place a screen around fireplaces, and do not use them to burn wrapping paper or plastic materials.

- Keep fire salts, which produce colored flames, away from children and use caution always. They contain heavy metals that can cause gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten.