Holiday decoration safety tips

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Mother and young daughter decorate a Christmas tree together.

The holidays are a perfect time for getting together with family and friends. Rarely do we consider how our festive decorations could put us at risk for injury or fire. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that every year more than 15,000 injuries involving holiday decorations are seen in emergency departments nationwide during November and December.

These reminders can go a long way to keeping your family safe during the holiday season.

Buy fresh

When you head out to pick the perfect tree, make sure to conduct a quick three-part stress test:

  1. The needles should resist being pulled off and should not snap or break when bent
  2. The trunk bottom should be sticky with resin
  3. The limbs should be strong and only drop a few needles if shaken

Keep it cool

Live or artificial, trees don’t take well to the heat, so make sure not to position your tree next to the fireplace, heat ducts or radiators. Also, remember not to place them where they may block doorways or high-traffic areas.

Put lights to the test

Make sure your lights are in good condition and in proper working order. They should be tested and marked with a holographic UL label. A red label means lights can be used indoors and out, while green means they are for indoor-use only.

Take it easy

Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Make sure the extension cord is rated for the intended use.

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Lights out

When you turn in, your lights should too. Turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

Stay grounded

Your power should come from a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. This type of outlet will shut down if there is overcurrent. If you don’t have one, a qualified electrician can add one outdoors for your future holiday needs, or you can buy a portable outdoor unit from your local hardware store for less than $20.


If you are working with lights or decorations above your normal reach, help prevent falls by making sure you use a secure ladder of the proper length and have someone help support the base.

Watch that wick

Keep all candles within eyesight when lit. Place them on a stable surface, out of reach to animals and children, and make sure to extinguish them before you go to bed, leave the room or the house.

It’s easy to get caught up in the festivities. Keep your holidays happy and your home and family safe by taking a little extra time to make sure your decorations are hung with care.

This article is for informational and suggestion purposes only. Implementing one or more of these suggestions does not guarantee coverage. If any policy coverage descriptions in this article conflict with the language in the policy, the language in the policy applies. For full details on Integrity’s home insurance coverages and discounts, contact your local independent insurance agent.

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