Holiday Safety: Tip No. 4

The Consumer Products Safety Commission offers advice on how to look for and eliminate potential dangers caused by holiday lights and decorations.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging people to look for and eliminate potential dangers this holiday season from lights and decorations that could lead to fires and injuries.

Each year, hospital emergency rooms treat about 1,300 people for injuries to holiday lights and 6,200 people for injuries related to holiday decorations and Christmas trees.

In addition, Christmas trees are involved in about 400 fires annually, resulting in 10 deaths, 80 injures and an average of more than $15 million in property loss and damage each year, according to CPSC.

CPSC Chairman Ann Brown said, "Decorating our homes for the holidays is a beautiful tradition, and to ensure that this holiday season is a safe and happy one, CPSC is offering the following safety tips."


  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant." Although this label does not mean the tree won''t catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when bounced on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees our quickly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water.


  • Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and discard damaged sets.
  • Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.


  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
  • Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair."
  • Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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