(ARA) - Home decorations help make the holidays joyful and festive for friends and family. While you are stringing the lights and spreading warmth and cheer, one of the most important considerations is how to keep your house and family safe from fire and injury.
"A home fire, gas leak or electrical accident can be especially devastating during the holiday season," says Sue Dempsey, vice president, North American sales & marketing, CSA International. "Yet a few indoor and outdoor safety precautions can help protect your family and achieve comfort and joy during the holidays."
CSA International, a leading North American product certification and testing organization, offers these important tips for safe holiday decorating:
1. Going out? Lights out! Always turn off holiday lights when you leave the house unattended or when going to bed.
2. Don't be dismayed, but discard the frayed. Carefully inspect holiday light strings each year and discard any frayed cords, cracked lamp holders or loose connections. When replacing bulbs, unplug the light string and be sure to match voltage and wattage to the original bulb.
3. Help your tree resist a fire. Try to purchase a freshly cut tree, as they are more resistant to fire. Keep your Christmas tree watered and far away from open candles. When using an artificial tree, choose one that is tested and labeled fire resistant. Regardless of the type of tree, place it away from heat sources such as radiators or fireplaces.
4. Contain any flames. Don't use open flames or candles on or near flammable materials such as wreaths, natural trees or paper decorations.
5. Check for a certification mark. When purchasing light strings, extension cords, spotlights, electrical decorations, gas appliances or carbon monoxide alarms, look for the certification mark of an accredited certification organization such as CSA International, UL or ELT to ensure that the products comply with applicable standards for safety and performance. Also know the warning signs of counterfeit -- and potentially unsafe -- decorations, products and gifts. These warning signs include missing parts, instructions, safety features or warrantees; packaging with spelling mistakes or poor graphics; or products significantly lower-priced than all other brands.
6. Use one and be done. Never connect more than one extension cord together; instead use a single cord that is long enough to reach to the outlet without stretching, but not so long that it can get easily tangled.
7. Don't meddle with outdoor metal. When hanging outdoor lights, keep electrical connectors off the ground and away from metal rain gutters. Use insulated tape or plastic clips instead of metal nails or tacks to hold them in place, and be sure to choose the correct ladder for the job.
8. Remember that timing is everything. Use a certified outdoor timer to switch lights on and off. Lights should be turned on after 7 p.m. to avoid the electricity rush hour.
9. Keep the gas behind glass. Do not use your gas fireplace if the glass panel is removed, cracked or broken. Only allow a qualified service person to replace fireplace parts.
10. Be alarmed. Be sure to install smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms on every level of your home -- especially near sleeping areas -- and test the alarms monthly.
11. Be a friend to your furnace. To help prevent CO hazards in your home, have a qualified heating contractor perform a yearly maintenance check of your furnace and venting system, and clean or replace your furnace filter frequently during the heating seasons.
12. Clean the clutter. Do not store combustible materials such as gasoline, propane, paper, chemicals, paint, rags and cleaning products near your gas furnace. Gasoline or propane cylinders should only be stored outside the home. Courtesy of ARA Content