Holiday Home Safety Tips


The winter holidays are a time for celebration, and that means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased risk of fire and accidents. InterNACHI recommends that you follow these guidelines to help make your holiday season safer and more enjoyable.

Holiday Lighting

  • Use caution with holiday decorations and, whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant and non-combustible materials.

  • Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials, and do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.

  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings, and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. If you have any questions about electrical safety, ask an InterNACHI inspector during your next scheduled inspection. Do not overload extension cords.

  • Don't mount lights in any way that can damage the cord's wire insulation. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples--don't use nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.

  • Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.

  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.

  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.

  • Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.

  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground-fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.

  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

Decorations

  • Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel and artificial icicles of plastic and non-leaded metals.

  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.

  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp and breakable, and keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children.

  • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy and food that may tempt a young child to put them in his mouth.

Holiday Entertaining

Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.

  • Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays, and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.

  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet).

  • Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire escape plan is.

Trees

  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "fire-resistant."

  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.

  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters. Place t