According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 200 people a day experience decoration-related injuries this time of year. Last year, in November and December, almost 13,000 people sought treatment in emergency rooms for incidents related to holiday lights, trees and other adornments. This doesn’t have to happen if you work safely and securely when making your home beautiful for the season.
Here are some tips on how to remain injury-free and still celebrate in style:
When Decorating Outdoors
1. Use a wooden or fiberglass ladder: Metal ones conduct electricity. Also have someone hold the ladder for you to keep you steady. When someone else is present, you won’t be stranded for hours before help comes should you fall.
2. Unplug anything electric before installing it: This includes lights, decorations and any other devices. Also unplug when replacing burnt-out bulbs or making repairs.
3. Plug outdoor decor into ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs): This cuts down on the chance of electric shocks.
4. Protect lights and cords from wind damage: Secure with sturdy tape. Don’t ever staple or nail through electrical wires.
When Decorating Indoors
1. Use LED lights: They use less energy, last longer and run cooler. Look for the Underwriters Laboratory, “UL” approval on any lights your use.
2. Ban lights in disrepair: When you encounter cracks in the cord, damaged sockets or bare wires replace with a new set. Faulty issues like this can easily spark a fire or shock someone.
3. Be kind to your outlets: Don’t overload them with more than they can easily handle.
4. Turn off electrical decorations at bedtime: Don’t leave lights or other electrical décor on while you’re sleeping or when you’re away from home.
5. Keep an eye on lit candles: Opt for batter-operated ones when you can. If you must light candles, locate them away from combustible materials and extinguish them before leaving a room.
6. Baby a fresh tree: Place your Christmas tree away from any heat sources and out of natural traffic paths in your home. Check the water level everyday and keep it watered.
7. Hang childproof decorations on the tree: If you have young children or plan to have guests that are toddlers, avoid sharp, breakable ornaments. Consign those that look like candy or have small, removable parts to the top area of the tree.
8. Store poisons out of a child’s reach: Alcohol, even in baking flavoring extracts, color additives for the fire and artificial snow can all be harmful to kids.
9. Safeguard your outlets: If children are present place safety caps on your electrical outlets when not in use.
10. Protect Fido and Mittens: Mistletoe, poinsettias, holly and breakable glass ornaments play havoc with a pet’s digestive system and may even cause a life-threatening illness. Don’t put them at a dog or cat’s level.
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