Safety tips for the holiday decorating season

‘Tis the season for families to begin decorating their homes for the holidays and the national nonprofit Home Safety Council is urging families to keep safety top of mind when hanging the holly and mistletoe this year. While home injuries are a year-round concern, many popular decorating traditions such as hanging holiday lights and lighting candles bring increased home injury risks.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year hospital emergency rooms treat nearly 12,800 people for injuries related to holiday decorating, including falls and electrical shocks. Before getting out holiday candles and lights or reaching for a ladder to decorate this year, consider the following tips and advice from the Home Safety Council.

Candle Safety

While candles provide a warm and festive atmosphere, research shows home fires caused by candles peak during the holiday season, with the highest number of candle fires occurring on Christmas Day, followed by New Year’s Day and Christmas Eve.* This year candle safety tops the Home Safety Council’s list of holiday safety tips:

  • Make sure an adult is in the room and paying attention whenever you light a candle. Blow out all candles before going to sleep or leaving the room.
  • Never use lighted candles on or near a Christmas tree or other evergreens.

Holiday Electrical Safety

Holiday lights and electrical decorations create holiday cheer both inside and outside the home, but they can also create fire hazards and electrical shock risks if they are not handled properly. The Home Safety Council recommends taking the following electrical safety precautions while decorating your home this year:

  • Inspect holiday lights and extension cords before decorating. Replace any that are fraying or damaged. Pay special attention to lights, cords or decorations that may have been damaged from winter weather conditions.
  • Check for red or green Underwriters Laboratories (UL) marks on all light strings and extension cords. The green holographic UL Mark means the light strings should be used only indoors. The red holographic UL Mark indicates the light strings can be used both inside and out – and can withstand conditions related to outdoor use.

Ladder Safety

Falls are by far the leading cause of home injury fatalities. The safest way to climb indoors and out is to use a safe and sturdy ladder. Follow the Home Safety Council’s ladder safety tips when using a ladder to decorate the tree, retrieve stored decorations or hang holiday lights:

  • Always use a sturdy ladder when climbing; it’s too risky to climb on a chair.
  • Before using a ladder outdoors, choose a location that is well away from all power lines. Coming in contact with live wires can be fatal.

To view the entire holiday safety tips guide, visit

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