Decorating during the holiday season should be fun and enjoyable, but for many people it can result in a trip to the emergency room or worse. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were an estimated 15,000 injuries involving holiday decorating seen in emergency departments nationwide during November and December 2012.
The most frequently reported holiday decorating incidents seen in emergency departments involved falls (34%), lacerations (11%) and back strains (10%). To avoid falls, heed the warning labels on ladders. (Read CPSC’s OnSafety blog, “Ladder Safety 101,” for tips to prevent ladder falls this season.)
The holiday season is also one of the busiest times for fires. According to the CPSC, when it comes to fires, from 2009 through 2011, fire departments nationwide responded to an average of 200 fires in which the Christmas tree was the first item ignited. Candles are also a leading source of fires.
To reduce the risk and prevent tragedy, follow these tips for fire safe decorating.
Interior Decorating Safety Tips:
- Use fire-retardant decorations. Flame-resistant material must not exceed 10% of the aggregate area of walls, doors and ceilings.
- Be aware of your decoration placement. Avoid combustible decorations concentrated in one area on a wall to prevent rapid fire growth.
- Crepe-paper and pyroxlin plastic decorations must be documented as fire retardant.
- Do not place natural cut trees in facility.
- Artificial Christmas trees must be effectively flame-retardant treated and placed away from heat vents, fireplaces and sunny windows.
- Do not use extension cords, circuit breaker power strips are recommended for a safe electrical power source. Do not connect one power strip to another power strip.
- Do not light candles indoors.
- Pre-test lights that are UL listed. Plug them in for 15 minutes before decorating, then check for excessive heat or damaged wiring.
- Check your lights for cracked or frayed wires and loose or broken plugs.
- Avoid overloading light strings. Do not connect more than 200 miniature lights or 50 large lights together. Small lights are safer because they produce less heat.
- Turn off and unplug lights at night. Grasp the cord by the plug; never pull on the cord itself.
- Do not block exits or fire pull stations with decorations or Christmas trees.
- Do not hang decorations on light fixtures, smoke detectors or sprinkler heads.
- Decorations on doors should not prevent their function or fully cover the door whereby identification as the means of egress is impaired.
Outside Decorating Safety Tips:
- Do not use indoor lights for outdoor decorating. Be sure to check the label on the box to see if the lights are for indoor or outdoor use.
- Limit the use of heavy duty extension cords.
- Be sure extension and light cords do not create a tripping hazard.
- Turn off and unplug lights at night.
- Do not block any exit discharge with holiday decorations.
HAVE A HEALTHY AND SAFE HOLIDAY!