The holidays should be a magical time for children. Yet each
year, hospital emergency rooms treat about 8700 people for injuries, such as
falls, cuts and shocks, related to holiday lights, decorations and Christmas
Keep the season merry with this list of safety tips from the
American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
•When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label
"Fire Resistant." Although this label does not mean the tree won’t
catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish
•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. The
trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground,
the tree should not lose many needles.
•When setting up a
tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms
dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water. Place
the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
•Cut a few inches off
the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water
absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire
noncombustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or
artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals. Leaded materials are
hazardous if ingested by children.
•Never use lighted
candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use nonflammable holders and
place candles out of children’s reach.
•Take special care to
avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small
removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or
inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food, which
may tempt a child to eat them.
•Wear gloves to avoid
eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel
hair." Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation
while decorating with artificial-snow sprays.
Ideas for Lights
•Indoors or outside,
always use lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing
laboratory that indicates conformance with safety standards.
•Check each set of
lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or
loose connections, and throw out damaged sets.
•Use no more than
three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
•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.
lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the
lights from wind damage. Use insulated staples to hold strings in place, not
nails or tacks. Or run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware
•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
•Use care with
"fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires.
They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation
and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.
•Do not burn wrapping
papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result, as wrappings ignite suddenly
and burn intensely.
•Before lighting any
fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace
area. Check to see that the flue is open.