December - Holiday Safety Tips
Holiday Safety Tips
The holidays are here again. Where did 2006 go and how did it come and go so fast? I guess the old adage holds true here: “Time passes quickly when you’re having fun.”
With the holidays upon us, we need to be careful and have an enjoyable and blessed time without any untimely accidents or incidents.
INTERESTING FACTS TO CONSIDER:
(from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission)
- Each year hospital emergency rooms treat approximately 10,800 people from injuries, such as falls, cuts, and shocks that are related to holiday lights, decorations, and Christmas trees.
- There are approximately 11,000 candle related fires each year, which results in 150 deaths and 1,200 injuries annually.
- On average, Christmas trees are involved in about 400 fires annually, which results in 20 deaths, 70 injuries, and over $15 million in property loss and damages.
CPSC conducts surveillance of holidays lights and decorations each year. In 2001, they prevented 116,400 units of holidays lights from entering the country because of non-compliance with the safety standards.
TIPS FROM THE CPSC FOR HOLIDAY SAFETY TREES:
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “fire resistant.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that the tree is fire resistant, but means that the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
- When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. If the tree is fresh, the needles will be hard to pull out of the limbs; and when you bend them between your fingers, they won’t break. Another check is to look at the butt of the tree. If it is fresh, it will show a lot of resin; and if you shake it against the ground, the needles won’t fall off.
- When locating trees, real or artificial, keep them away from heat sources such as fireplaces, radiators, or space heaters with open flames. With fresh trees, remember to check and fill the stand with water daily. Try to place the tree out of a walkway or door entrance.
- Use “fire salts” with special care, they contain heavy metals and can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation.
- Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire can result, as wrappings ignite and burn quickly.
- Whether indoors or outdoors, use only lights with an approved laboratory rating, like Underwriters Laboratory, or other approved sources. Always try to use lights with fused plugs.
- Check, before every season and whether new or old, the sockets, bulbs and cords for breaks, frayed wires, or loose connections.
- Don’t use more than three strings of lights for each extension cord. Check the extension cord to be sure that it is rated for multiple cord use.
- Avoid using electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged from faulty lights, and the person touching it can be electrocuted.
- Outdoor lights – Be sure to check the label to be sure that they are designed for outdoor use. Secure outdoor lights to trees, walls, and fence posts or other objects that are stable to prevent wind damage. If you are using staples to tie to a hard object, be sure to use insulated staples for obvious reasons.
- If small children are prevalent, avoid using decorations that have sharp edges or points.
- It is imperative that you turn off all lights when you leave home or go to bed at night. There is always the possibility that the lights can short out and catch the house on fire.
- For extra protection with outdoor lights and other electric decorations, plug into GFCI’s if you have them. If not, I would suggest changing the plugs out to GFCI’s for added protection. The cost is cheap compared to the damage that could happen.
- Use only non-combustible or flame resistant materials to decorate the tree.
- You should never use lighted candles on a fresh tree or other evergreens. For candles, use non-flammable holders and place them where they won’t get knocked over.
- With small children, avoid decorations with sharp edges or breakable parts.
- Wear gloves for protection when decorating with angel hair. Check the directions for use to avoid lung irritation.
SAFETY IS AS SIMPLE AS ABC ALWAYS BE CAREFUL !!
SAFETY IS NEVER OUT OF SEASON!
Ted Gordon is the Risk Management/Loss Control Manager for the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. His office is located in the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, in Verona, MS. His telephone number is 662-566-2201.