Holiday decorating has begun. Houses are beginning to be decked out in festive cheer while malls and workplaces sparkle with Christmas joy. Though many people are excited for the holiday season, it’s important to keep safety in mind during this time of year. Research has shown that 10% of Canadians never check their lights for safety hazards before hanging them. 25% of Canadians also leave their lights up well after the holiday season is over and 17% of Canadians say that choosing holiday décor accessories that meet Canadian safety standards isn’t a priority.
Put fire prevention at the top of your list: During the Christmas season everyone has many things to accomplish. But, as you’re rushing around decorating, entertaining, and crossing things off your list, make fire safety a priority as well. Fires can be easily prevented in your home by staying in the kitchen while cooking, checking your lights before you decorate and making sure candles are placed in strategic areas where they won’t pose a hazard. Also make sure to check your smoke alarms. Here are some safety tips to use over the holiday season:
- Before working on hanging your outdoor Christmas lights, cut the electricity supply and unplug any connections.
- Lights should be inspected every year before hanging them. Any light strings with fray cords; cracked lamp holders or loose connections should be thrown out.
- Check that replacement light bulbs match the voltage and wattage of the original and ensure that bulb reflectors fit the light string.
- Look for a certification mark on anything electrical, including lights and decorations. Also ensure that outdoor decorations are certified for outdoor use.
- All outdoor lighting should be plugged into receptacles protected by weatherproof ground fault circuit interrupters, which protects you from getting electrical shock by cutting power when it senses ground leakage.
When hanging outdoor lights, keep electrical connections above ground and away from water. Insulated fasteners work best to hold light strings up rather than metal nails or tacks.
- Never staple light strings or extension cords to a wall or cubicle.
- Remove lights immediately after the holiday season. They are made only for temporary outdoor use and can be damaged by harsh weather conditions.
- Store your lights and decorations in their original package. Important information about replacement bulbs and instructions for proper use are often printed on the packaging.
General safety tips:
- Open flames or candles should be kept away from flammable decorations like wreaths, trees, or paper decorations.
- Though candles set the right mood for your party, they should be kept out of the reach of children and pets.
- If you are on the hunt for a Christmas tree, make sure it’s fresh. They aren’t as likely to dry out and become a fire hazard.
- Artificial trees should be made of fire resistant material and should have a certification mark on them if they have electrical lights. If the pine needles are similar to a paper-type material, it could create a fire hazard if the lights are left on the tree for long periods of time as they could warm the pine tree needles. Check periodically to see if the bulbs are beginning to over-heat and unplug them if they are, especially overnight.
- When decorating your tree, think about safety when you’re placing your ornaments. As beautiful and unique as they are, your breakable baubles could be a hazard to children and pets. Think about placing them higher up on your tree to protect children and pets. And always remember to shop only for flame-resistant decorations.
Tips for making safety a priority:
- Always make sure you purchase decorations with a certification stamp, otherwise you may be purchasing a fake. If the box doesn’t show a company address or contact info, it’s probably fake.
- Check packaging for substandard design or incomplete diagrams. Fakes often have misspelled words and unclear print on products and labels as well as inconsistences between the product and the package description.
- Check the product for its weight. Counterfeit products are usually light and flimsy.
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