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Holiday Decorating: 10 Steps to Stay Safe as You Deck the Halls

The holidays are drawing near and many of you are decorating your homes for the upcoming festivities. The American Red Cross has some safety steps you should follow to stay safe as you put up the lights and ornaments for this holiday season.

1. Check all your light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together – no more than three per extension cord.

2. If you are buying an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. When putting it up, stay away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat.

3. If you are getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and water it to keep it fresh. Bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.

4. If you have older decorations, check their labels. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.

5. When decorating outside, make sure decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If you use hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.

6. If you have to use a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure you have good, stable placement and your shoes allow for good traction.

7. Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees.

8. Don’t forget to turn off all your holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house.

9. Keep children, pets and decorations away from candles.

10. If hanging stockings on the fireplace mantel, don’t light the fireplace.

During the holiday season, an average of 40 home fires per day are caused by children playing. And candle fires are four times as likely to occur. That’s why these safety tips are so important to remember as you string up lights and gather with family and friends.

The Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters every year and most of these emergencies are home fires. To end these tragedies and help save lives, the Red Cross launched a nationwide Home Fire Campaign in 2014 with the goal of reducing the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent. As part of the campaign, Red Cross volunteers and partners canvass high-risk neighborhoods to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms and help families create escape plans.

As of November 1, one million free smoke alarms have been installed across the country and 285 lives have been saved due to the efforts of all those who have participated in the Home Fire Campaign. Join the campaign today by volunteering to install smoke alarms in your community, make a financial contribution, or take steps to protect your own family from home fires. Together, we can Sound the Alarm about fire safety and help save lives.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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