- Tend to the Tree
Whether you choose a Balsam Fir or a Blue Spruce, make sure you know the correct ways to tend to your tree. Most importantly, ensure you water your tree often to avoid dried-out branches and needles which could increase the risk of a potential fire. Living trees are highly flammable and keeping your tree hydrated is essential. Check the water level of your tree at least every other day. Additionally, make sure your tree isn’t too close to your fireplace, or any other open flame.
You also have the option of purchasing a “fake” tree to lessen fire risks. These days, there are many artificial tree options to make your home merry and bright! Our favorite perk of choosing an artificial tree over a real tree is that you can purchase a pre-lit version, avoiding the hassle of stringing tree lights perfectly yourself. This can save a lot of time and frustration!
Pro Tip: Thinking about opting for the safety of an artificial tree but don’t want to lose that nostalgic pine smell a living tree brings to your home? Consider a room spray or air freshener to add that sentimental, evergreen smell to your home like this one from Mrs. Meyers, which is made with essential oils and smells just as wonderful as a fresh-cut tree.
- Use the Buddy System
Decorating your home for the holidays, whether you go all out or keep it simple, is a big job! Make sure to call on a family member or friend to assist you in decking your halls, especially with the more labor-intensive and perilous tasks. Trust us, preparing your home for the holidays is way more fun with a little help anyway!
Items like heavy storage containers full of holiday décor you’ve been keeping in your attic or basement all year, usually need at least two extra hands to handle safely. Avoid accidents by having someone spot you on the attic stairs and help you carry large, heavy items. Using the buddy system can assist in dodging injuries like throwing your back out by lifting something too heavy or smashing your fingers while carrying bulky objects. If you have substantially sized holiday items you need to dig out of storage, consider purchasing lifting straps to assist.
Having a holiday decorating partner is particularly helpful if you plan to beautify the outside of your home, specifically your roof or gutters. Anytime you’re using a ladder for activities like installing outdoor holiday lights or garland, you should have someone close by making sure the ladder is stable. A fall from a ladder, even if you aren’t at a particularly high height, can cause substantial injury and even death.
- String Lights Safety
A home all lit up for the holidays gives us the warm fuzzies, but decorating with holiday lights without considering hazards accounts for many house fires each year. There are several elements to keep in mind if you plan to string up lights this year.
First, make sure your strings of lights are in working order before you begin hanging them on the tree, stairs, or house. Inspect each strand for frayed wires and any other connection issues. When you’re hanging your lights, make sure you hang them in a way where you won’t damage the cords, this means avoiding items like staples to hold your lights in place.
Additionally, it’s important to not overload your home's electrical outlets by plugging in multiple strings of lights. Utilize extension cords to avoid overheating and be sure you know your strand’s wattage and the maximum wattage capacity of your extension cords. Did you know there are lights specifically made to be used outside? Don’t use your indoor lights outside, or vise versa! If you’re shopping for holiday décor, always take note of indoor/outdoor use specifications.
Pro Tip: Many trusted companies will place your holiday décor, like lights and other outdoor displays, for you! If you just aren’t feeling up to decorating yourself this year, that doesn’t mean your home can’t be taken care of. Angie’s List is a great place to search for reliable light installation in your neighborhood.
- Prepare for Pets
Whether you have pets yourself, or you are expecting an animal as a guest this holiday season, be sure your home is a safe space for your furry friends.
An important, but easily overlooked consideration, is the choice of ornaments you decorate your tree with. While your seasoned, glass ornaments may be a beautiful addition to your tree, they are also extremely fragile and have a high potential to shatter. If you plan to have any wagging puppy tails or pouncing kittens in your home, consider shatterproof alternatives to your typical glass ornaments. These days there are many stylish alternatives, like these mercury glass ornaments from Pottery Barn, which give you the classic ornament look while keeping your pet's safety in mind.
Also, if beautiful, seasonal foliage is a part of your yearly decorating routine, ensure you take note of any plants that are poisonous to cats and dogs. For instance, did you know poinsettias are poisonous to pets? If you want to decorate with live plants, consider a Christmas Cactus instead. If you’re a plant lover, consider brushing up on your plant facts so you can confidently decorate this holiday season while keeping your pet’s safety in mind.
- Candles Caution
While candle safety is important all year long, during the holidays, we tend to light candles more often. We also tend to have larger quantities of flammable décor like garland and wrapping paper sitting around, increasing the chance of a house fire. It’s never a great idea to have an open flame burning, so consider placing candles inside of glass holders, especially if your candles are placed anywhere near other items that may catch fire.
Additionally, never use a lit candle to decorate any type of tree. If you simply love the look of Christmas tree candles, try an alternative like a battery-operated, LED clip-on. LED lights aren’t just more efficient and longer-lasting, they also don’t get hot to the touch like traditional bulbs, making them significantly safer for use. Luckily, many of our favorite flame lit and electric décor items are now designed with LED lights, including window candles and even tapered candles for a safer holiday tablescape.
If you do use traditional candles anywhere in your home, be sure they are out of reach of children and pets and aren’t too close to anything flammable, like drapes or furniture. Also, while it may sound like common sense, it’s easy to forget after a little eggnog - don’t ever go to sleep for the evening with candles still burning!
Preparing your home for the holidays is such a joyous activity that can be shared by the whole family. No matter how you decide to celebrate and decorate this year, remember, safety first! By taking potential hazards into account you can ensure your holiday season is full of only merry, memory-making moments.