12 Holiday Safety Tips from the American Red Cross
Beware of Holiday Candles Keep candles away from decorations or other potentially flammable materials, and do not use them as Christmas tree decorations. Also keep candles away from windows or doorways, as they could potentially prevent an exit in case of a fire.
Never leave children unattended around lighted candles, or around lighers/matches.
Test Tree Trimmings When purchasing lights for your Christmas tree, be sure to only purchase those that have been tested by a laboratory. Do not overload electrical outlets and never leave the lights plugged in when going to bed or leaving your home. If you happen to have a metal Christmas tree, do not use electrical lights.
When purchasing lights for outdoor display, use only those labeled for outdoor use.
Keep Christmas Trees Fresh Display your Christmas tree away from heat sources and exits, and make sure it is secure in a sturdy stand. Water it every day.
If your tree is an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled as fire-retardant.
Prepare for Holiday Parties When decorating, only use flame-retardant materials and avoid flammable items, including candles.
If you or your guests will be smoking, make sure the ashtrays are deep and check them often. When your party has ended, check in and around all upholstery, trash cans or any other area where people have been smoking and look for cigarette butts that may still be smoldering.
Designate a Driver If you will be drinking at a holiday party, make sure to designate a driver to stay sober.
If you are hosting a party, provide non-alcoholic beverages for those guests who are the designated drivers.
Inspect Fireplaces At the start of heating season, have your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned, if necessary. There is a chemical substance called Creosote that forms when wood burns. It can build up in chimneys and can potentially cause chimney fires if not cleaned properly. When burning a fire, always use a sturdy screen.
Burn only wood, and avoid paper or pine boughs, as these can float out of the chimney and ignite other nearby homes. Never burn flammable liquids in your fireplace. If you will be hanging stockings on or near your fireplace, do not burn any fires.
When purchasing a factory-built fireplace, select one that is listed by a testing laboratory and have it installed according to local codes.
Be Cautious with Portable and Space Heaters When using a portable space heater, make sure it is at least 3 feet away from any flammable materials, such as wallpaper, bedding and clothing, as well as pets and people. Never leave pets or children unattended near a space heater.
Always turn your space heater off before leaving the room or going to bed. Space heaters are a fire hazard and should not be used as a drying device (wet mittens, socks, etc.).
Watch Your Wood Stoves If you have a wood or coal burning stove, make sure it is labeled by a recognizable testing laboratory and that it meets your local fire codes. Follow all manufacturers' instructions and recommendations for maintenance and use. Any chimney connections and flues should be professionally inspected and cleaned, if necessary, at the beginning of every heating season.
Burn wood only, and make sure the stove is set on an approved stove board, so the floor is protected from heat and hot coals. Before you install a wood stove, check with your local fire department for their local codes.
Cook with Care Avoid wearing loose fitting clothing when cooking and don't store any items on top of the stove, as both of these can possibly be ignited by hot burners. Always cook with the pot handles pointing in so they can't be easily tipped over.
Keep your kitchen appliances in good condition and clean, and make sure they are turned off or unplugged at the end of use. Don't overload your electrical outlets and if you notice wires that are cracked or frayed, do not use.
Buckle Up People travel more than ever over the holidays. Make sure that all passengers wear their seat belts and that children are sat in the back of the vehicle in approved safety seats.
Prepare a Winter Storm Plan Keep extra blankets at hand and make sure that every member of your household has a warm coat, gloves, a hat and water resistant boots. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or your local radio/television station for any storm information.
Also have your car winterized before the winter storm season.
Enroll in a First Aid & CPR Course In the case of any emergency, it is important to be prepared for any potentials safety hazards. Contact your local American Red Cross for information on how to enroll in first aid and CPR classes.