Security and Safety

How to Deck the Halls Safely

By Staci Parks 11.26.18

It may not feel like it outside, but the holiday season is here. In Texas, we sometimes have to create our own seasonal ambiance. It might not be a white Christmas, but our over-the-top Christmas decorations will make up for it.

But don’t drag out those dusty boxes from the attic just yet. Before you start playing movies like Elf and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on a loop, heed this holiday safety advice.

Christmas decorations - tree safety

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Safety starts with the season’s focal point — the Christmas tree. Do your research before buying, as there are different considerations for both artificial and real trees.

  • Be picky. Look for a tree with an even coloration. If you’re going for a pine, grab a branch and pull the tree toward you before you buy. A majority of the needles should remain intact. If they don’t, it’s a sure sign the tree is dehydrated and probably won’t last you through the holiday season.
  • Make room. Once you decide where you want to place your tree, all other Christmas decorations should be considered in relation to it. Make sure it’s not blocking an exit or in a high-traffic area.
  • Keep it stable. Make sure the base of the tree is flush with the floor and not wobbly or uneven.
  • Keep away from heat sources. Heating ducts and space heaters can dry out a live tree faster. And as tempting it can be to place your tree near a fireplace, the hearth can be a dangerous place for a live or artificial tree (even if it has a fire-resistant label).
  • Hydrate daily. If you decide to go with a live tree, check the water levels every day. Hydration will keep your tree vibrant, but it will also keep it from becoming a dry, flammable hazard. The tree stand should hold one quart of water per inch of stem diameter.
  • Decorate with care. Keep ornaments, especially small, breakable ones, out of reach of playful house pets and curious children.

Christmas decorations - candle safety

A Happy Glow 

Small, well-placed glimmers in the form of lights, tinsel, and candles can add a happy glow to your holiday affair. But be mindful with these Christmas decorations.

  • Don’t leave candles unattended. Between 2011 and 2015, 36 percent of home decoration structure fires were started by candles, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
  • Check the wiring in your lights. Whether they’re hanging from the Christmas tree or your front porch, make sure they’re functioning as they should. Damaged or exposed wires, tears in the cords, and even cracked bulbs can call pose hazards.
  • Inspect your fire alarms and fire extinguishers. Brittle Christmas tree branches, fires in the fireplace, candles burning bright; all these things can become fire hazards. Check your smoke alarm batteries and share fire escape plans with overnight guests. Add a carbon monoxide detector, if you don’t already have one.

The Hearth

  • Clean your fireplace. Before you enjoy the first toasty fire of the season, prepare with these holiday hearth safety tips
  • Place safety screens. Keep your fireplace screened even when it’s not in use.
  • Hang stockings thoughtfully. Use caution and ensure they aren’t too close to the flame or heat source. 

Christmas decorations - outdoor safety

Outdoors

First impressions matter. As festive cheer spreads to Christmas decorations on the exterior of your home, make sure these features are in working order.

  • Clear your gutters. Winter brings new kinds of weather-related concerns, and leaving this area of your house unattended could cause you problems later in the season.
  • Trim trees and bushes. Lessen the chance of lights and displays getting caught in these outdoor features.
  • Plan for placement. Your decor should be at least 10 feet away from power lines. Avoid overloading electrical outlets by spacing out your displays.
  • Deice. If we’re lucky enough to get a frost, that might mean added danger. Make sure to salt your driveways and walkways so guests can come in from the cold safely. 

Before you deck the halls, talk with your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent about a 360 Review to make sure your home, and everything in it, is protected.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2018 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance