The Holidays are a special time around the home, and Builder-Questions.com would like to provide some helpful safety tips, to keep these special Holidays both joyous and safe for all of your family.
Christmas Lighting: Although we are continually warned of frayed wires, multiple lights strings on one circuit, the heat of the bulbs, etc. we all need reminders of these safety issues.
- Wires should be inspected for frayed or bare conductors prior to their use.
- All sockets should have a bulb screwed or inserted into them. Even if the bulb is burned out or does not light, make sure that there are no open sockets in the string of lights.
- Use certified power strips that are equipped with circuit monitored, overload breakers, that will flip if the individual power strip is overloaded.
- Test light strings, prior to installation on the tree or elsewhere. It is important that the string of lights does not spark, light intermittently, or become hot. Testing prior to installation is a good method of identifying all of these issues, prior to use.
- Make sure that exterior lights are used for exterior applications. The use of exterior lights on the interior is fine, however, the use of interior only lights on the exterior will result in short circuiting of the lights due to excessive temperature swings and moisture.
- If possible, use all LED lighting, they use less energy, do not get hot and will last forever.
Christmas trees: An artificial tree is obviously the safest type of Christmas tree, however, if you remain a traditionalist and have a real tree, the following hints will keep it safe.
- Wait to purchase the tree until a few weeks prior to Christmas. The fresher the tree, the better it will stay in the home and the less it will dry out.
- If possible, cut your own tree. If you cut your own Christmas Tree, this will ensure that you have the freshest and moistest tree that you can possibly obtain. Pre-cut trees could have been cut several weeks prior to you purchasing them, and could be starting to dry-out already.
- Prior to bringing the tree into the home, freshly cut the bottom of the trunk to allow the newly cut end to better absorb the water in the tree stand.
- If the tree is to remain outside at your home, prior to bringing it in, keep it outside in the cool air and insert the end of the trunk in a bucket of water. This will allow the tree to continue to absorb water and remain fresh as it waits for its final placement in the home.
- Hammer nails, or screws into the bottom of the trunk end, prior to sitting it into the tree base. Leave the ends of the nails or screws extended out of the base of the trunk to allow the tree to sit on the heads and provide a space between the bottom of the tree stand and the base of the tree. This will allow the water in the stand to easily enter the base of the tree.
- Watering the tree: The Christmas Tree, if fresh, will suck up the water into the tree at the beginning, quite aggressively. In fact, it always surprises me how quickly the water level will initially drop in the tree stand, when you first place the tree in the home. This use of water, once the tree has become saturated, will start to taper off. Continue to check the water level in the tree stand until the day you remove the tree from the home.
- Additives into the Christmas Tree water: There are many suggestions regarding what you should put into the water that you pour into the tree stand. We suggest that you stir in some sugar into the water to provide some nutrients for the tree. There are specialized mixtures that have been developed that can enhance the tree water. Feel free to try any of them.
- Placement of the tree within the home: The Christmas Tree should be placed in a cool part of the home, away from heating vents, fireplaces and wood stoves. Although the nostalgic Christmas photos, always show the tree adjacent to a roaring fire, this is not the place for the Christmas Tree. A roaring fire will immediately dry out the tree no matter how much water is absorbed. Do not place the tree next to the fireplace. Also try not to place the tree in proximity to a heating vent. If there is no other alternative location, close the vent and even better, encase the vent louver with aluminum foil or another non-flammable product to prevent the exiting of heated air.
- Tree removal: Once Christmas is over and all the company has left, it is important that you remove your tree from the home. There is no need to keep a rapidly drying tree in the home. Even if all precautions are met, and the tree appears stable and healthy, remove the tree from the inside of the home. The immediate ignition of a dry tree is instantaneous and can consume your home in moments. Get this safety hazard out of the house, once you are completed with your celebration!
Christmas Presents: Once again, the hazards of fire and combustibility is ever present in the opening of presents and the accumulation of wrapping paper within the area around the Christmas tree. Cardboard and wrapping paper are the most flammable by – product of opening presents.
- Designate someone involved in the opening of presents to collect the wrapping paper as it occurs. The paper should be placed in a garbage bag for disposal as it is being taken off the presents. Although this appears somewhat formal, the accumulation of paper as everyone opens their presents, can produce a hazardous situation around an open fireplace, candles or other points of ignition. Do not burn the paper in the fireplace. The potential for a stray ember to exit the fireplace is real, and there is no reason to risk this type of potentially devastating situation.
- Be careful if there are any type of hazardous presents involved in the public opening of presents. Items such as fire arms, ammo, knives, fireworks, etc. should be held to the side and privately opened. There should never be an overall present opening that includes potentially hazardous materials or products.
- Cardboard is abundant when there are multiple Christmas presents being opened. Do not be tempted to throw the cardboard into your fireplace or wood stove. The instant ignition of such items as cardboard, can cause a hazardous flare up, that could create a fire or cause an instant explosion of fire within the fireplace or wood stove. It is always best to organize the cardboard in flat packages bound by string, and set them in the recyclables for pickup.
Wood stove: The use of wood or pellet stoves at Christmas time, pose additional hazards during this time of the year, as opposed to the use of these types of heating devices during normal days of winter.
- Make sure that all flammable elements such as wrapping paper, cardboard, Christmas decorations, etc. are kept far away from the surface of the stove.
- Do not burn cardboard or paper in the stove.
- Keep toddlers away from the perimeter of the stove. It is suggested that if festivities occur around the stove, the purchase of a special non flammable fence be placed around the perimeter of the stove, to ensure that toddlers do not venture next to and touch the hot surfaces of the stove.
- Store your logs and kindling for the stove in an area that is not susceptible to toddlers or young children. The movement of wood around the house can cause damage or injury and the small kindling is potential armament for creative and energetic children.
- Store your matches and fire starters away from any children. The safety issues are obvious, however, the holidays can create conditions that do not normally occur within the household, such as marauding children. Their ability to cause havoc and commotion must be anticipated, to ensure all items that could be hazardous are removed from the scene.
Merriment: We use this term loosely, meaning the merriment that adult beverages may cause in the adult visitors at your home. Be aware of various issues that can occur with the enjoyment of adult beverages, especially amid the hazards of the Christmas Holidays. Open fireplaces, hot wood stoves, dry Christmas Trees, present strewn on the ground and stairs, can cause issues that will involve safety hazards. It is important that there remain logical, non-altered adult within the home environment to make sure of the safety within the home.
Enjoy your Holidays, but make sure that you remain aware of all the safety hazards that are potentially attributable to this time of year!