Ten Tips for Safe Holiday Decorating

The holidays are a time of festivities and fun, and many people like to “deck the halls” of their homes to celebrate. With a few precautions, you can enjoy those holiday decorations safely!

1) Holiday lights can suffer in storage all year. Check your light strings for frayed or cracked cords, loose connections, or broken sockets. If you need to change a bulb, unplug the lights first.

2) Light strings are intended to be strung together, but a good rule of thumb is to connect no more than three strands at any time.

3) Don’t overload your outlets! Use a single, long extension cord rather than connecting multiple, shorter cords together. They can create a fire hazard.

4) Make sure all of your light strings and cords have some slack, but not so much they can cause tripping or tangling.

5) Holiday lights are designed for safety, but can still be a potential fire hazard, so make sure yours are turned off whenever you leave the house or go to bed. A WiFi light switch or outlet connector can help you automate lights through your smartphone or a home automation hub for less hassle.

6) Decorations with “angel hair” (created from spun glass) can cause irritations to the skin and eyes and should be handled with gloves, if possible.

7) If you have a live Christmas tree, try to choose a freshly cut one, and keep it watered daily! Dry trees can catch fire very easily. The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences has an excellent resource site for tree care.

8) Keep trees at least three feet from any heat source, including fireplaces, space heaters, heat vents, candles, etc.

9) Holiday plants make lovely decorations, but some should be kept out of reach of children and pets. Poinsettias, holly berries, and mistletoe berries are toxic.

10) Stockings above the fireplace may be an iconic image of Christmas, but make sure they are at least three feet away from the heat source. A better decision is to take them down completely if you are using the fireplace.

Practice safe holiday decorating and keep your celebrations worry-free and merry!