Decorating for the holidays is one of the things that makes the season so special. However, it pays to understand the risks to your safety and the health and wellbeing of your family members during this festive time of year. From fire hazards to defective products to causing slips, trips and other falls, some decorations may increase your risk of injury. Use these five holiday decorating tips to stay safe at home or a friend’s house this season:
1) Choose Where You Put Your Tree Carefully
When it comes to choosing a Christmas tree, bigger is usually better. But when you have a large tree, there are many more considerations when deciding where to put it. Large trees can block sightlines, infringe on doorways, and even cause falls when surrounded by gifts or decor.
Securing a large tree properly is also important. Depending on the size and shape of your tree, even the sturdiest of stands may not ensure it can withstand curious children, rambunctious teens, and family pets. Taller trees often require guy-wires to anchor the tree to the ceiling or walls to prevent toppling.
2) Reduce Your Risk of Fire
Fires are one of the most dangerous risks during the holiday season. Choosing an artificial tree treated with flame-retardant is one of the best options. However, ensuring your real tree stays moist and well away from heat sources also reduces the risk. Real trees become dry quickly after cutting, and can be highly flammable. For this reason, you should never place a tree near a fireplace, radiator, or other heat source.
Remember to check if your tree needs watering each day.
3) Be Aware of Other Fire Dangers
Many popular holiday traditions involve open flames: Menorahs, candles in the window, stockings hanging on the fireplace, and even the yule log. Practice fire safety when these items are in use, and keep all fire sources out of the reach of children.
Keep all holiday decorations away from these flames, including removing stockings and boughs from the mantle before lighting a fire in the fireplace.
Many decorations require a power source. Do not plug too many outlets into a power source at one time.
4) Check Your Lights Carefully Before Use
Visually check every inch of your string lights before plugging them in. Throw out strings with broken sockets, bare wires, or other issues. Read the package for your string lights carefully — many recommend connecting no more than three due to the increased risk of fire.
Even when you follow these guidelines, it is still a good idea to unplug holiday decorations when you leave the house or when you go to bed.
5) Practice Safe Climbing Habits
Some holiday decorations require climbing ladders, getting on the roof, or other dangerous activities.
Anytime you use a ladder, it pays to take the proper precautions. Always wear slip-resistant shoes and have someone on-hand to help you if you encounter any problems.
On the roof, be especially careful to avoid tripping over extension cords, tools, or other fall hazards.
What if I suffer an injury due to holiday decorations?
In some cases, people follow all of these tips and still end up visiting the emergency department during the holidays. While you can control many of your own accident risks, it is almost impossible to eliminate the risks posed by other parties’ careless actions.
If you suffer injuries due to a defective product, a public holiday display, decorations at a friend’s house, or a store display in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you may be able to file for compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.