The holiday season can easily turn tragic if home safety measures are not taken seriously. In the excitement of getting ready for Christmas and New Year celebrations, many people may overlook a few important things, including safety precautions when decorating, cleaning, cooking and buying gifts.
To help ensure a safe holiday season for families, the National Safety Council has produced some safety guidelines. Here are some practical and helpful suggestions from the council.
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Christmas Tree Safety
There are so many ideas to decorate a Christmas tree. A real Christmas tree is exceptionally beautiful and can enhance the spirit of Christmas within the home. Unfortunately, living trees are also a fire hazard and contribute to more than 400 residential fires every year.
The risk can be minimized by ensuring the tree does not dry out quickly. Get a fresh, green tree with needles of pines and spruces that don’t break as well as a trunk covered with sticky sap. Put the tree in a water-holding pot to keep it hydrated. Position the tree away from fireplaces and other heat sources. Do not put lighted candles on the tree.
Those opting for artificial trees should get fire-resistant trees. Look for the Underwriters Laboratory (LB) label for trees with built-in electrical systems. If there are young children in the house, avoid hanging small decorative items and lights on lower branches of the tree.
Decorating with Caution
One of the most commonly used items when decorating for Christmas is spun glass “angel hair”, which can cause eye and skin irritation. So wear gloves when using it. Cotton is sometimes used instead of angel hair. Although these two items are non-flammable on their own, they can burn quickly if artificial snow is sprayed on them. Read and follow instructions carefully when spraying artificial snow.
Buying Safe and Appropriate Gifts
When buying toys for children, make sure the toys are suitable for their ages and abilities. Avoid toys with sharp edges for children under eight and toys with small parts for children under three. Again, read the labels and instructions before buying any toys.
Be considerate when buying gifts for older people too. Make sure the gifts are light, easy to handle and not too bulky. Books with large prints will be good choices for those with vision impairment.
Food Preparation Safety
There are always extra dishes to prepare and cook during the holiday seasons. So food safety should be a priority too. Be sure to choose, store and prepare fresh food properly. Wash hands, knives, chopping boards and anything that comes in contact with raw meat thoroughly. Kitchen safety should be observed as well. Make sure young children do not wander into the kitchen and that hot pots are beyond children’s reach.
Fireproof the House
With more cooking and fireplaces being use, the risk of fire increases during winter. Install a smoke alarm and have the batteries checked every month. Those who want to have a fire extinguisher at home should know how to use and maintain it properly. Do not leave food cooking on the stove unattended. Also, try not to overload electrical outlets.
Going Away for the Holidays
If no one will be at home for a few days during the holidays, turn off and unplug electrical items not in use, properly secure all windows and doors and activate the alarm before leaving. Buy insurance for all contents in the house. Have someone you trust to come over every other day to check the house and pick up newspaper and mail.
A happy holiday season is one without mishaps. So make sure safety precautions are taken whenever you’re decorating the Christmas tree, buying gifts, preparing lavish meals and going away for a holiday. The extra efforts will give you and your family peace of mind during the festive season.