by East Coast Risk Management on Dec 20, 2011

 The holiday season is a time for celebration, and that means more cooking, decorating, entertaining & an increased risk of accidents.  We would like to share some simple guidelines to help make your holiday season safer and more enjoyable:

Xmas Fireplace

Holiday Lighting

  • Use caution with holiday decorations and, whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant and non-combustible materials.
  • Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials, and do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings, and replace damaged items before plugging lights in.
  • Don't mount lights in any way that can damage the cord's wire insulation.  To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples - don't use nails or tacks.  Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
  • Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
  •  Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.  The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights & a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground-fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  •  Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house.


  • Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim a tree.  Choose tinsel and artificial icicles of plastic and non-leaded metals.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens.  Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.   
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp and breakable, while keeping trimmings with small removable parts our of the reach of children.
  • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy and food that may tempt a young child to put in his/her mouth.

Holiday Entertaining

  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the US.  When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.   
  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children
  • Test smoke alarms and make guests aware of your fire escape plan.


  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness.  A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for a "Fire-Resistant" label.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters.  Place tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk to expose fresh wood.  This allows for better water absorption and will help you keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Make sure the base is steady so the tree won't easily tip over.


  • Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area.
  • Be sure to check that the flue is open.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace.  A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

Toys and Ornaments

  • Purchase appropriate toys for the appropriate age.  Some toys designed for older children might be dangerous for younger children.
  • Electric toys should be UL/FM approved.
  • Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords and parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to small children.
  • Place older ornaments and decorations that might be painted with lead paint our of the reach of children and pets.

Children and Pets

  • Poinsettias are known to be poisonous to humans and animals, so keep them well out of reach, or avoid having them.
  • Keep decorations at least 6 inches above the child's reach.
  • Avoid using tinsel.  It can fall on the floor and can be eaten by a child or pet.
  • Keep any ribbons on gifts and tree ornaments shorter than 7 inches.  A child could wrap a longer strand of ribbon around their neck and choke.
  • Avoid mittens with strings for children.  The string can get tangled around the child's neck and cause them to choke. 
  • Watch children and pets around space heaters or the fireplace.  Do not leave a child or pet unattended!
  • Store scissors and any sharp objects that you use to wrap presents out of your child's reach.
  •  Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations, such as candy canes, gingerbread men and mistletoe berries, all of which are choking hazards.   




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Valparaiso, Indiana 46385

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