Decking the halls? Check yourself, before you wreck yourself.

Every year you get a little older and a little less nimble so maybe have someone spot you while you are putting up those holiday lights.

And if you've waited this long to put up the holiday cheer, you are probably a bit rushed.

For most households, holiday decorating doesn't come with lacerations, falls and fires, but a decorating buddy can help reduce the risk of these events.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says falls from ladders while stringing lights and hanging decorations, incidents of lacerations from broken glass ornaments and other holiday-related injuries are on the rise.

During November and December 2010, CPSC estimates that more than 13,000 people were treated in emergency departments nationwide due to injuries involving holiday decorations, up from 10,000 in 2007 and 12,000 in 2008 and in 2009.

Also, between 2006 and 2008, there was an annual average of four deaths and $18 million in property damage related to Christmas tree fires. During this same time period, CPSC received reports of about 130 deaths and $360 million in property losses related to candle fires.

"A well-watered tree, carefully placed candles, and carefully checked holiday light sets will help prevent the joy of the holidays from turning into a trip to the emergency room or the loss of your home," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum.

"This is easily the busiest time of year, but it's important to make time for safety while celebrating the holidays," said John Drengenberg, director of consumer safety at Underwriters Laboratory (UL).

"By committing a few minutes each day to safety, many accidents can be avoided and your holidays will be memorable for all the right reasons," he added.

You think you know the drill, but every year you get nagged. This one is no different. Be careful out there.

CPSC and UL suggest using the following these safety tips to help keep your holiday home safe this year.

Trees and decorations

• Buy a live tree that is fresh and green with needles that are difficult to pull from the branches. The needles should not break when bent. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin and, when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.

• Set up the tree at home out of traffic and away from doors and from heat sources, such as fireplaces, vents, and radiators. Heated rooms dry out live trees, so be sure to keep it watered daily. The tree stand always should be filled with water.

• If it's an artificial tree look for a "fire resistant" label. It's not a guarantee the tree won't burn, just that it is resistant to igniting.

• When small children are about, avoid sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to keep them from swallowing or inhaling small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that can tempt a child.


• Keep burning candles within sight. Extinguish all candles before you go to bed, leave the room, or leave the house.

• Burn candles on a stable, heat-resistant surface away from where kids and pets can reach and knock them over. Place lighted candles away from items that can catch fire and burn easily, such as trees, other evergreens, decorations, curtains and furniture.


• Use only lights - indoor and out - tested for safety by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as UL. On most decorative lights available in stores, UL's red holographic label signifies that the product meets safety requirements for indoor and outdoor usage. UL's holographic label, with the green UL Mark, signifies it meets requirements for only indoor usage.

• Check outdoor lights for labels showing that the lights have been certified for outdoor use, and only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter- (GFCI) protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.

• Check new and old light sets for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw out damaged sets. Do not use electric lights on a metallic tree.

• Be sure each extension cord is rated for its intended use.


• Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if swallowed. Keep them away from children.

• Don't burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

• Don't use older wood-burning fireplaces and stoves on regional Spare the Air Days, when weather conversion patterns trap larger particulates nearer Earth's surface and create breathing problems for some people.

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