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Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

If you deck out your home for the holidays, stay safe while you do it so injuries or tragedies won't get in the way of your holiday celebration. The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that holiday decorating-related injuries account for over 12,000 emergency visits annually, involving a wide range of injuries like cuts, shocks, falls and burns.

You don't have to fall prey to holiday decorating dangers. Here are safety tips to prevent accidents, both inside and out:

Exterior Decorating Safety

Use lights and other decorations made specifically for outdoor use
Southern California weather is typically cool and rainy in the winter, meaning that your outdoor display will be exposed to precipitation. Don't take the chance of creating a hazard by using indoor lights on you home's exterior or yard.

Use ladders carefully
The Centers for Disease Control says that 43 percent of deadly falls in the last 10 years involved a ladder, so don't become part of that statistic. Check your ladder's condition before you use it to decorate those high spots. If it's in good shape, use it only on level ground and wear slip-resistant shoes for climbing it. Never step on the top or reach out too far. Reaching that "just a bit too high" spot isn't worth the risk of celebrating the holidays in a cast...or worse.

Interior Decorating Safety

Choose the right tree
Live Christmas trees are a popular tradition, but that festively decorated pine turns into a dangerous torch ready to ignite if you don't water it regularly. The National Fire Protection Association says that electrical problems also play a big role in tree fires, so make sure your lights are in good condition, with no worn or frayed cords. If you have pets, monitor the water level closely in case they're using the tree stand as a new drinking bowl, and make sure they don't chew the cords.

Turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed at night
Even if you check them carefully, a damaged light might slip through or something might short out. Turning off lights and decorations at bedtime prevents overnight tragedies.

Use candles carefully
Flickering candles add ambiance to your holiday decor, but they pose a fire danger if you leave them unattended. Only burn them when someone's in the room, or opt for battery-operated candles to get the same effect in a much safer way.

Keep delicate or dangerous decorations away from children and pets.
Kids love the holidays, and a decorated home creates special memories that last a lifetime. Just be sure that you keep delicate decor, like ceramics and other breakable items, out of children's reach. Pets tend to get into trouble around holiday decorations, too, so don't hang breakable ornaments too low on the tree or your cat might decide they're toys. Keep tempting but toxic chewables out of dog reach.

Dispose of your tree promptly
Even the best cared-for live Christmas tree dries out eventually and creates a fire hazard. Most major cities in Southern California schedule pick-up days for live trees in early January. Find out the days in your community and have your tree out and ready.

Make sure your smoke detectors work
If the worst case scenario happens and you have a decoration-related fire, working smoke detectors can save your life. It's a good idea of change your smoke detector batteries when you roll back your clock in October, which means they'll all ready for the holiday season.

Article by Barbara Nefer. "
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