Have fun and stay safe with our holiday decorating tips

It’s that time of the year again – time to break out the lights, put up the tree, and decorate the lawn with plastic reindeers…okay, maybe forget the last part. Though it’s a wonderful time for decorating, it isn’t always easy, or even safe. Not to put a damper on the happiest time of the year, but from 2007-2016, it’s estimated that over 173,000 people were injured while holiday decorating. These injuries were sustained for a variety of reasons, including tree lights, electrical decorations, and home fires. Some injuries were serious enough to require a visit to the ER. 

We want you to have a beautiful season, but accidents happen. As you prepare to deck the halls, take a moment to read over these six safety tips so your family can enjoy the holidays safely out of the ER. 

1. Tree safety

A tree is at the center of most holiday décor, so you need to remember that real fir trees are flammable. Make sure the tree you buy is fresh and green, with soft needles that don’t break or fall off too easily. There should also be plenty of resin on the tree trunk. If the tree looks brown or like it’s dying, look for another one. If you use an artificial tree, make sure it’s fire-resistant. 

Another tip is to make sure to place your tree far away from heat sources, including fireplaces, heating systems, mobile space heaters, and candles. 

Check out these additional fire safety tips when it comes to trees. 

2. Fireplaces and candles

That crackling fire in the fireplace might offer warmth on cold nights, but it can also lead to a dangerous house fire. We recommend that you only use logs or kindling in a fireplace. You should avoid burning wrapping paper, decorative pine cones, or tree branches. Wrapping paper can cause flash fires, and pinecones or uncut branches could explode or cause sparks to fly. 

If you use candles, always place them far away from furniture, drapes, hanging stockings, or anything else that could catch fire. They should always be placed on a flat, level surface. The same rule applies to candles used outside. One way to lower the risk of a fire is to use battery-operated candles instead. 

NOTE: Make sure to put out the fire and candles completely before going to bed.

3. Light safety

Make sure to buy lights that have been tested for safety. Look for certification marks from UL, CSA, ETL, or some other nationally-recognized laboratory. LED lights are a good choice as they use less energy and last longer. They also tend not to overheat like incandescent lights. 

Lights can also burn out or overheat, especially after a few years. This increases the risk of a fire. If you’re using the same lights again, be sure to test them before hanging them on the tree or outside. 

Make sure you use lights where specified. Indoor lights should only be used inside and outdoor, outside, unless the box says they can be used for either. All outdoor lights should be plugged into ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to reduce the risk of an electrical shock. You can buy portable GFCIs that are safe for outdoor use.

4. Turn everything off at night

It might be tempting to leave the lights and decorations on all night, but it’s not a good idea. A fire could spark and you might not realize until it’s too late. Go around the house and turn off and/or unplug all lights and electrical decorations, inside and outside. If it’s easier, get an automatic timer to shut them off at a time you set. Some smartphone apps can be synced with the lights of your home so you can turn everything off with one click.

5. Outdoor safety

As you’re decorating, keep ladders, decorations, and other equipment at least ten feet away from any power lines. As far as ladders go, use a wood or fiberglass one, as metal ladders conduct electricity. When climbing ladders, make sure they’re placed on solid, level ground. If someone can hold the legs steady when you’re working, that’s even better.

Make sure all electrical decorations are placed in a well-ventilated area, but still protected from bad weather. Everything should be kept well away from anything flammable or combustible, such as other decorations, fabric, plastic, and paper products. 

When putting up lights, make sure the cords are secured but don’t staple or nail through wires or extension cords. This can damage the wires and cause a possible electrical shock or fire.

6. Get the right homeowner’s coverage

Follow these safety tips to lower your risk of starting a fire or sustaining an injury while putting up holiday decorations.  It’s also important to ensure you have the right homeowner’s coverage. If you already have a policy, review it to make sure you have enough coverage. This is especially important if you’ve recently done renovations/updates or added an addition to your home. 

Contact us to talk about your insurance needs and request a quote

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