December 13, 2004
Methodist Rehabilitation Center offers safe decorating tips this holiday season
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Think First, Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s statewide safety and injury prevention program, urges homeowners to use caution this holiday season when decorating. The Jackson hospital encourages people to look for and eliminate potential dangers from decorations, holiday lights and Christmas trees.
“Many things known to create holiday magic in our homes can also cause devastating fires and injuries,” said Think First coordinator Lauren Fairburn. “Each year, over 10,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries resulting from falls, cuts and shocks, related to Christmas trees, decorations and lights.”
Fairburn says to be especially cautious about candle use.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), candle fires occur almost twice as much during December than any other time of year.
“Keep matches, lighters and candles out of the reach from children and never leave burning candles unattended,” advises Fairburn. “Keep candles away from flammable decorations such as a Christmas tree or garland.”
Pay close attention to lights, old and new, she says. Check for worn or cracked sockets or loose connections and make sure lights going up outdoors have been certified for outdoor use.
Fairburn says there are other fire safety concerns to remember this holiday season, too.
“Remember to keep your eye on the stove,” says Fairburn. “Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States and entertaining family and friends while cooking can be a great distraction.”
Fairburn’s tips for safe holiday decorating include:
- Always unplug Christmas tree lights and extinguish all burning candles when leaving a room. Unplug any outdoor lighting before bed or leaving the house.
- Be aware of treats in holiday dishes. Nuts and candies are a choking hazard to small children.
- When purchasing artificial garland, wreaths or trees, look for a fire resistant label. Although this label does not mean the tree won't catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
- Keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water daily. Dried-out trees are highly flammable and should be thrown out.
- Never use electric lights on a metal tree.
- When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators.
- In homes with small children, avoid tree trimmings and other decorations that are breakable or pose a choking hazard.