December 2004 Edition 

Holiday Decoration Safety Tips 

CPSC Document #611 

TREES 
Many artificial trees are fire resistant. If you buy one, look for a statement specifying this protection. 
A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree. To check for freshness, remember: 
  • A fresh tree is green.
  • Fresh needles are hard to pull from branches.
  • When bent between your fingers, fresh branches do not break.
  • The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin.
  • When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles shows that the tree is too dry.
Place tree away from fireplaces, heat registers and other heat sources. Heated rooms dry trees out rapidly, creating fire hazards.
Tree
Cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption. Trim away branches as necessary to set the tree trunk in the base of a sturdy, water-holding stand with wide spread feet. Keep the stand filled with water while the tree is indoors. 
Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways. Use thin guy-wires to secure a large tree to walls or ceiling. These wires are almost invisible. 
SNOW 
Artificial snow sprays can irritate lungs if inhaled. To avoid injury, read container labels; follow directions carefully. 
LIGHTS 
Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the label from an independent testing laboratory. 
Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets or repair them before using. 
Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house, walls or other firm support to protect from wind damage. 
Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. 
Turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Lights could short and start a fire. 
Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and any person touching a branch could be electrocuted! To avoid this danger, use colored spotlights above or beside a tree, never fasten onto it!  
Keep "bubbling" lights away from children. These lights with their bright colors and bubbling movement can tempt curious children to break candle-shaped glass, which can cut, and attempt to drink liquid, which contains a hazardous chemical.  
CANDLES 
Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders. 
Keep candles away from other decorations and wrapping paper. 
Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over. 
TRIMMINGS 
Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials. 
Wear gloves while decorating with spun glass "angel hair" to avoid irritation to eyes and skin. 
Choose tinsel or artificial icicles or plastic or non-leaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children. In homes with small children, take special care to:  
  • Avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable.
  • Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the
  • reach of children. Pieces could be swallowed or inhaled.
  • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food. A child could eat them!
FIRES 
Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that flue is open. 
Keep a screen before the fireplace all the time a fire is burning. Use care with "fire salts" which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals which can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation or vomiting if eaten. Keep away from children. 
PAPER 
When making paper decorations, look for materials labeled non-combustible or flame-resistant. 
Never place trimming near open flames or electrical connections. 
Remove all wrapping papers from tree and fireplace areas immediately after presents are opened.  
Do not burn papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.  
General Rules for Holiday Safety 
  • Keep matches, lighters, and candles out of the reach of children.
  • Avoid smoking near flammable decorations.
  • Make an emergency plan to use if a fire breaks out anywhere in the home. See that each family member knows what to do. PRACTICE THE PLAN!
  • Avoid wearing loose flowing clothes - particularly long, open sleeves - near open flames - such as those of a fireplace, stove, or candlelit table.
  • Never burn candles near evergreens. Burning evergreens in the fireplace can also be hazardous. When dry, evergreens burn like tinder. Flames can flare out of control, and send sparks flying into a room, or up the chimney to ignite creosote deposits.
  • Plan for safety. Remember, there is no substitute for common sense. Look for and eliminate potential danger spots near candles, fireplaces, trees, and/or electrical connections.
Consumers can obtain this publication and additional publication information from the publications section of CPSC's web site or by sending your publication request to info@cpsc.gov.
CPSC
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $700 billion annually. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children. The CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals - contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years. 
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or visit CPSC's web site at www.cpsc.gov/talk.html. To join a CPSC email subscription list, please go to www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.asp. Consumers can obtain this release and recall information at CPSC's Web site at www.cpsc.gov.

If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at rodharrison@christianbuildinginspectors.com. We reserve the right to edit questions for length.


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