Each year, about 8,700 people are treated for falls, cuts, and shocks related to holiday decorations. In addition, Christmas trees are involved in about 400 fires annually, resulting in 20 deaths, 70 injuries, and an average of more than $15 million in property loss and damage.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) conducts surveillance of holiday lights and decorations, and this year prevented the import of 320,398 units of holiday lights that did not meet safety standards.
CPSC suggests following these tips to make your holiday a safe one.
- Artificial trees should be labeled "fire resistant." If the tree catches fire, it will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
- A live tree should be fresh and green. Needles should be hard to pull from branches and should not break. The bottom of the trunk should be sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, it should not lose many needles.
- Place your tree away from traffic, fireplaces, and radiators. Heated rooms rapidly dry out live trees; be sure to keep the stand filled with water. Do not place the tree where it will block a doorway.
- Only use lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory.
- Check for broken sockets, frayed wires, or loose connections. Throw out damaged sets.
- Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity and cause electrocution.
- Turn off lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
- Check labels to be sure lights have been certified for outdoor use.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to protect from wind damage. Use only insulated staples or run strings of lights through hooks. Do not use nails or tacks.
- For added protection, plug outdoor decorations into ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified electrician.