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Have a holly, jolly, SAFE holiday

12/18/12 Have a holly, jolly, SAFE holiday
“Simple decisions like tree placement or light decorations on your house should be given careful consideration.”

Amidst the hustle and bustle of ribbons and bows, a simple accident can cause holiday chaos.

“It seems that we get called to house fire every Christmas,” said Richard King, Interim Director of Disaster and Emergency Services at the American Red Cross of the Finger Lakes NY Region. “Simple decisions like tree placement or light decorations on your house should be given careful consideration.”

Keep the cheer in your holiday; consider the points below before you decorate.

Christmas tree care

  • Purchase flame retardant metallic or artificial trees.
  • If you have a real tree, make sure that it has fresh, green needles that aren’t easily broken. Keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water.
  • Use a sturdy tree stand designed not to tip over.
  • Keep trees at least three feet away from heat sources, including fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.
  • Make sure that any light strings or other decorations for the tree are in good condition and follow manufacturer’s instructions for their use. Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords.
  • Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree.
  • Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove.
  • Safely dispose of trees as they become dry and needles begin to drop.
  • Dispose of trees through recycling centers or community pick-up services. Dried-out trees should not be left in a house or garage, or placed against the house or garage.
  • Holiday lights and decorations

  • Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear.
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets by only linking three or fewer light strands.
  • Use decorations that are flame-resistant or flame-retardant.
  • Place decorations at least three feet away from fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.
  • Make safety a part of your holiday celebration

  • Prevent hypothermia by following Santa’s lead. Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, which will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears. Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion, and severe shivering.
  • Use a Red Cross-trained babysitter when attending holiday festivities. Red Cross-certified babysitters learn to administer basic first aid; properly hold and feed a child; take emergency action when needed; monitor safe play and actively engage your child; and some may be certified in Infant and Child CPR.
  • Avoid danger while roasting chestnuts over an open fire. Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking and be alert. Keep anything flammable—such as potholders, towels or curtains—away from your stove top. Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drinks are prepared or carried.
  • Designate a driver or skip the holiday cheer. When you designate a driver who won’t be drinking, you help make sure a good party doesn’t turn into a tragedy. A good host ensures there are non-alcoholic beverages available for drivers. The designated driver should not drink any alcoholic beverages, not even one.
  • When the weather outside is frightful, heat your home safely. Never use your stove or oven to heat your home. Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended. Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month.
  • Cut down on your heating bills without being a Grinch. Get your furnace cleaned by a professional; change the filters regularly. Make sure heat vents aren’t blocked by furniture. Close off any rooms you aren’t using and close heat vents or turn off radiators in those rooms. Use either insulating tape or caulking strips to surround your windows and door moldings. Put up storm windows or storm doors to keep the cold out.
  • Don’t move a muscle until they buckle. Each person in your vehicle should have their seatbelts securely fastened before driving off. Ensure children are buckled up and their car seats are installed appropriately based on their age and size. Children 12 and under should always sit in the back seat.
  • 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 redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.