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Holiday Safety Guide

For such a jolly, joyous time of year, Christmas can also be a pretty dangerous holiday. With tons of fire hazards and the way we make merry, our festivities can leave a lot to be desired, safety-wise. Keep the holiday season jolly by following these important safety guidelines. Take the proper precautions to prevent falls, burns, cuts, shocks, and other injuries related to holiday lights ,trees, and decorations.  After all, the holidays are better spent in company with friends and family rather than in the emergency room.  

Safer Trees

  • When purchasing an artificial Christmas tree , verify that the item is labelled as "Fire Resistant ."
  • Look for the freshest tree possible since older trees will drop their needles faster, thus creating a hazard and a mess.
  • Place all Christmas trees  away from doorways and out of the way of body traffic to prevent the inevitable "Timbeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer!".
  • Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The warm air will dry out the tree, increasing its flammability .
  • Keep tree trimmings with smaller, breakable parts out of the reach of children.  
  • Many Christmas ornaments may resemble toys, making them very appealing to a child's eye--it could be very dangerous if they are misused, including the occasional break and/or consumption.

Bright Ideas

  • Inspect Christmas lights  for broken sockets, frayed wires, or loose connections.
  • New lights should carry the European CE mark and many new models now run on 12 to 36 volts via a mains transformer. It is worth remembering that light sets  without a transformer will have 240 volts running through them, increasing the danger of an electric shock if they become faulty.
  • Wires should be double insulated, and firmly attached to the plug by the cord restraint.
  • Never hang any indoor lights outside. Make sure you've purchased the proper lights before hanging them.
  • DO turn off all lights  when you go to bed or leave the house. You never know when the lights will short and start a fire.
  • That goes double for candles! They should never, ever be left unattended.

Friendly Fireplaces

  • Know how to start your fire properly, maintain it, and extinguish fires if they occur. 
  • Keep the right equipment on hand: kindling ,tapers , dustpan, a small brush, a shovel poker , and a container for fire wood .
  • Do not burn wrapping paper  in the fireplace. A flash fire can occur as wrappings ignite quickly.
  • You should not have any holiday decorations near the fire either; this includes evergreens ,boughs , and papers . 
  • Have a fire guard or screen  available to contain any sparks or embers that may be discharged from the fire.
  • A wraparound guard  that attaches to both sides of the fire is needed if there are children, elderly persons, or pets in the home.
  • A fire extinguisher  should be kept somewhere in close proximity to the fireplace in case of emergency.

Don't Slip

Winter is a dangerous season; unless you spend the more frigid months on holiday in the Mediterranean, you're going to need to deal with the slippery, icy cold.

  • Remove and drain all outdoor hoses .  Any leaks will only lead to a frozen surface! 
  • Shovel  out all walkways after a snow storm.  A snow blower  can also be your new best friend.
  • Use ground salt  on the side walk to prevent the formation of slippery ice.
  • Wear shoes with good traction ; just because you salted, it doesn't mean your neighbours have.
  • Sledding  on the roadway is not safe; look for shallow slopes free of obstacles, and never sled toward on coming traffic.
  • Dress in layers of warm clothing  suitable for winds and cold weather. Look for weather-resistant  products to keep dry and warm.
  • Create a winter safety plan for communicating with your family members in case road conditions make it difficult to get home--and always carry your mobile .

 Happy Hosting

If you're going to host a holiday party, it's not enough to crack open a Christmas hamper  and let people graze. People expect a proper meal, properly prepared and sickness free.

  • Fully cook meats  and poultry  and thoroughly wash fruits  and veggies  to avoid bacteria.
  • When preparing eggnog , make sure the egg  is fully cooked.
  • Foods that need refrigerating should not stay out longer than two hours.
  • Monitor the alcohol intake of your guests to avoid any tragic accidents.

Dangers for Dogs and Pets

  • If you walk your dog on side-walks that have been treated with de-icer, make sure to wash  the dog’s paws when you get home; these chemicals can irritate the skin.
  • Don't feed your pet any cooked bones; they can splinter or get lodged in your pet’s throat and can cause some serious damage.
  • Never--we repeat, never--leave chocolates within easy reach! Chocolate  is toxic to a canine stomach.
  • The leaves of poinsettia plants ,mistletoe , and holly  can be deadly if consumed.  Keep these out of a dog's way.
  • Christmas tree decorations  can cause a nasty accident or be fatal to your pet. Young pets will show a great interest in hanging decorations, so do try to use larger unbreakable ornaments.
  • You will also want to avoid tinsel  or ribbons, as these are dangerous to the gastrointestinal tract if your pet swallows them.
  • If your pet is a chewer, keep electrical wires  out of reach. Cat and rabbit owners should also pay heed.

Other pets require safety precautions. Avoid spraying fake snow  or pine scented air fresheners  near sensitive birds, rodents and lizards.  Keep candles  on stable surfaces, away from pet interference. If your pets can't seem to stay away from your tree, spray the outside area of the skirt  (not the tree itself!) with repellent  spray.

Alcohol Safety

  • Never drink and drive.  Do NOT get behind the wheel if you are intoxicated.
  • Be careful never to leave your drink unattended, even if you are hitting the dance floor or going to the loo.  If you do leave it unattended, get a new drink and scrap the old one.
  • If someone you do not know or trust offers to buy you a drink, either decline politely or accompany them to the bar and watch that nothing is added to your cocktail.
  • Don't tip back too much of the eggnog .  You will want to keep your wits about you so that you can be aware of your surroundings. If you feel uneasy about someone at the party or at the pub, there may be a reason--don’t give them personal details about yourself and don’t arrange a second date.
  • If you are going to have a few drinks, please remember to always drink responsibly!

Related Guides

After you've secured a safe, happy holiday, why not look into some of the more festive, happy aspects of this time of year? Decorating and entertaining are all part of the fun!

Christmas Trees

Tree Ornaments and Lights

Hosting a Christmas Party

Indoor Decorations

Outdoor Lights