Who wouldn't prefer to spend the holidays in a festive home setting rather than in the emergency room? But falls, fires and injuries often happen while people are decorating their homes for the season. Help reduce your chance for injuries with these timely tips.
· If you have a real tree, choose a fresh one and water it frequently. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) estimate 240 wintertime fires start with dry Christmas trees each year.
· Check light strands to be sure they're not frayed. Discard lights that have exposed wires or show signs of wear. And reduce the chance for current overload by connecting no more than three strands of lights together.
· Never leave lit candles unattended, especially near children or pets. Extinguish flames before you leave home or go to bed. Better still: Use battery-powered candles.
· Place your tree as far from the fireplace as possible, and keep other combustible materials away from the flames. Don't let garlands or greens hang over the mantel where they might ignite.
· Further reduce the chance for wintertime fires with these tips.
· Use a sturdy wooden or fiberglass ladder to hang exterior lights. Aluminum ladders have the potential to conduct the current of a frayed light cord.
· Always work with a partner when hanging outdoor lights. He or she can hold the ladder steady, fetch materials or get help if you are injured.
· Plan to hang exterior lights over a weekend when you have more daylight hours to work in.
· Inside, stand on a sturdy ladder to put the star on the tree or to reach other high places. Don’t lean off the ladder while decorating; climb down and move it closer.
· Put cookie jars and candy dishes out of reach of small children and deter them from climbing up to get a treat.
· Avoid using fire salt or other products that add color to flames. Children who ingest these products can experience severe gastrointestinal problems.
· If you're using artificial snow on your tree, allow for proper ventilation to avoid lung irritation, and avoid contact with eyes.
· Wear gloves if decorating with spun glass ("angel hair") to prevent eye and skin irritation.
· Avoid decorating with poisonous plants such as holly and its berries, Jerusalem cherries and mistletoe. (Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias aren't poisonous. However, because eating the leaves can lead to upset stomachs and contact with the leaves can cause skin irritation in some people, it's best to monitor children and pets near these plants.)
Tricia Zwirner is Windham’s local State Farm agent. She can be contacted for all your insurance needs. Like a good neighbor…State Farm is there.