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, sometimes we 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.

However, if you’re starting to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, make sure you’re not replicating it, too. Follow these tips for keeping your home and its inhabitants safe when you deck your halls.

Christmas Tree Safety

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, but these are good rules of thumb:

1. Pick 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, the tree is dehydrated and likely won’t last through the holiday season.

2. Pick a safe, stable spot. Make sure the base of the tree is flush with the floor and not wobbly or uneven. Consider your other decorations and plans in relation to the tree, and make sure it’s not blocking an exit or in a high-traffic area.

3. Avoid heat sources. Heating ducts and space heaters can dry out a live tree faster. 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).

4. Hydrate daily. For live trees, check the water levels every day. Hydration will keep your tree vibrant and prevent it from becoming a dry, flammable hazard. The tree stand should hold one quart of water per inch of stem diameter.

5. Decorate with care. Keep ornaments, especially small, breakable ones, out of reach of playful house pets and curious children.

Lights, Fires, and Candles

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.

1. Don’t leave candles unattended. Between 2011 and 2015, 36% of home decoration structure fires were started by candles, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

2. Check your lights’ wiring. 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.

3. Hang stockings carefully. Use caution and ensure they aren’t too close to the flame or heat source. Keep your fireplace screened even when it’s not in use, and practice good fireplace safety.

4. Consider outdoor light placement. Your decor should be at least 10 feet away from power lines. Avoid overloading electrical outlets by spacing out your displays. Trim trees and bushes to lessen the chance of lights and displays getting caught in them.

5. Check fire alarms, extinguishers, and plans. Brittle Christmas tree branches, fires in the fireplace, and candles burning bright can all become fire hazards. Check smoke alarm batteries and share fire escape plans with overnight guests. Add a carbon monoxide detector, if you don’t already have one.

Before you enjoy the first toasty fire of the season, prepare with these holiday hearth safety tips.

© 2018 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance