Becoming caught up in the magic and wonder of holiday decorating is a fundamental part of the season. Arranging all the twinkling and sparkling décor is a fun way for families to show off their traditions and personality, bringing those we care about closer together.

To make sure the decorations go up without any major injuries or incidents, it’s important to perform some basic safety checks along the way. Setting up trees, stringing up lights, and stoking fireplaces all add to the holiday atmosphere, and all require their own precautions to be done safely. Keep these decorating safety tips in mind, and everyone will be able to bask in the holiday magic, without any stress, sprains, or lasting scars.

Electrical Outlets

As lights and decorations are hung indoors and outdoors, electrical outlets all around the home will see increased use throughout the holiday season, but it’s important to make sure no one outlet is overloaded, as this can easily lead to a short, burst fuse, or fires. Also, outdoor and indoor lights are labelled as such for a reason and should only be utilized in their respective areas.

Outlets partially exposed to the outdoor elements — such as in the garage — need to be watched carefully to ensure they stay dry and free from moisture from melting snow before they are used. It’s also a smart idea to either set lights on a timer or be diligent about unplugging lights and decorations after extended use, as keeping them plugged in and turned on for too long can be dangerous.

Fire Hazards

Both trees and candles are staples of the season, but the two do not mix well. Keep open flames away from real trees and wreathes, as these can quickly catch flame while they continue to dry out. While they seem like a safer alternative, labels on fake or ornamental trees should be checked to see if they’re flame resistant, as some brands and models are not, and can be just as flammable as the real deal.

A crackling fire in the fireplace is an instant mood-setting centerpiece, but should never be left unattended, and should only be lit with a metal screen in front of the hearth, to provide a barrier to catch errant sparks. Always use proper kindling and firewood within the fireplace, and avoid burning other flammable items, like wrapping paper or newspaper, as these items burn faster and tend to create more creosote, which becomes a fire hazard as it builds up in the chimney.

Candles are equally atmospheric, and can be equally dangerous if not watched closely. A friendlier, smoke-free alternative is to decorate with battery-operated flameless candle lights.

Ladder Safety

Getting decorations into just the right spot requires some vertical leverage, but take caution when operating ladders. Only use ladders on level ground, with a spotter to watch for issues and stabilize the base. Like outlets, when using ladders outdoors, keep an eye out for moisture and ice. Making sure the ladder is dry before use can prevent a dangerous slip and fall from perilous heights.

Also, remember to employ the three-point contact method — keeping either both feet and a hand, or a both hands and a foot — when on the ladder at all times. This will help stability while moving and reaching from the ladder.

Ice & Snow

The natural ornamentation of the outdoors, ice and snow provide the necessary ingredients for that winter wonderland feeling. As pretty as they are to look at, though, snow and ice can be deceptively unsafe. Be cautious and diligent when moving around icy surfaces, as slips and falls at ground-level still cause serious injuries. Wearing proper footwear with sturdy traction while outside is important, as well as spreading salt melt prior to a freeze and regularly during snowfalls.

Safety during holiday decorating is all about awareness, precaution, and sensibility. When feeling rushed to get everything into place and just right, the temptation to take shortcuts or do something the fast way — rather than the right way — can take over. Instead, keep caution front and center, as the most important part of the season is the continued health and well-being of those we care about most. Taking a little extra time to hang the stockings with care will make the season safer, and more enjoyable.

Optimum Safety Management provides the information and services to help companies develop safety leaders and improve overall safety performance. For more information on how Optimum Safety Management can assist with your businesses’ safety needs, contact an expert today, or reach out via phone at 630-759-9908.

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