Holiday Health & Safety
- Keep Home Safety at the Top of Holiday List to Protect Guests
- Candle Safety Tips For The Holidays
- Tis’ The Season To Think Safety
- Holiday Lighting Safety Tips
Keep Holidays Merry and Bright Tips For Holiday Lights
Keep Home Safety at the Top of Holiday List to Protect Guests of All Ages from Injuries
As the holiday countdown draws closer, many families are busy preparing to welcome friends and relatives of all ages into their homes. In fact, a recent study by the national nonprofit Home Safety Council found that more than 40 percent of adults plan to host friends and family in their homes this holiday season.
Before hanging the mistletoe and finalizing the holiday menu, the Home Safety Council urges families to take another look at the safety of their home. Evaluating each room of the home from a different point of view is especially important for those welcoming older adults and young children, two of the age groups most at risk for home injuries.
“The holiday season can be hectic and when several generations come together under one roof, it’s important to take special precautions to keep everyone safe,” said Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council. “To keep an injury from spoiling your holiday gathering, set aside time to take a quick safety tour of your home and make the simple changes needed to correct any hazards before your first guest arrives.”
Protect Holiday Guests of All Ages from Home Injuries
A few simple changes like storing medicines, cleaning supplies, and matches and lighters in a locked place where children cannot see or touch them and installing grab bars in tubs and showers, can go a long way toward keeping all holiday guests safe. Follow the Home Safety Council’s recommended safety steps below to help everyone in your home enjoy an injury-free holiday season.
- Check the lights over all stairways, hallways, porches and entries to ensure all bulbs are working and are bright enough.
- Stick to the maximum safe wattage, which is often printed inside the light fixture.
- Put non-slip strips or rubber mats in all tubs and on shower floors.
- Put sturdy grab bars inside the bath and shower area. Towel holders are not strong enough to support weight — don’t use them as grab bars.
- Place nightlights inside bathrooms and in the hallways leading to them.
- If your guests will include babies and toddlers, get safety gates. Place them at the tops and bottoms of stairways.
- If you have an attached garage and/or fuel-burning heat or appliances, you need a carbon monoxide (CO) detector. Install one on every level of your home, especially near sleeping areas.
- Put emergency numbers by every telephone. These include 9-1-1 and the National Poison Control Hotline – 1-800-222-1222.
- Look for products in your home with the words “Caution,” “Warning,” “Danger,” “Poison,” or “Keep Out of Reach of Children” on the label. Lock products with these words on the label up high and keep them away from food and drinks.
- Stay in the kitchen when anything is cooking on the stove.
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from space heaters.
- Make sure there is at least one working smoke alarm on every level of your home. If your smoke alarms are 10 years old or more, replace them with new alarms (they don’t last forever!).
- Push the test button to make sure all smoke alarms work. Put a new battery in any alarm that doesn’t signal during the test.
- If you have not put a new battery in each alarm within the past year, do it now.
- When guests arrive, walk through your home fire escape plan with them. Point out all the exits. Show guests where to meet you at your outside meeting place.
- If possible, have older adults sleep in a bedroom on the ground floor.
- Prevent hot water burns by turning your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Use toilet seat locks if children live in or visit your home. Use a door knob cover or put a high lock on the outside of bathroom doors to keep children out when you are not with them.
- Be aware that buckets, spas, pools/ponds, tubs and all standing water are a serious drowning risk for very young children.
- Children can choke on small things like buttons, coins, jewelry and toys. If something is small enough to fit in a toilet paper tube, it is not safe for little children. Make sure these items are put away out of children’s reach before babies or toddlers come to visit.
Read the labels of all toys before you let children play with them. Make sure the child is old enough to use that toy. The label will tell you the safe age.
The Home Safety Council (HSC) is the only national non-profit organization solely dedicated to preventing home-related injuries that result in nearly 20,000 deaths and 21 million medical visits on average each year. Through national programs, partnerships and the support of volunteers, HSC educates people of all ages to be safer in and around their homes. The Home Safety Council is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization located in Washington, DC. Web Site: www.mysafehome.org
(2) Candle Safety Tips For The Holidays
The holiday season is a joyful time for celebrations, family gatherings and decorating the home. It’s also the most popular time for burning candles and, unfortunately, the peak season for accidental candle fires.
The National Candle Association and the National Association of State Fire Marshals are urging consumers to take special care when using candles this holiday season, and to follow these important fire-safety rules:
- Always keep a burning candle within your sight.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended.
- Keep burning candles away from combustible items. Be careful not to place candles near flammable decorations or Christmas greenery.
- Always use a candleholder specifically designed for candle use. The holder should be sturdy, heat resistant and big enough to collect dripping wax.
- Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
- Trim candlewicks to 1/4 inch before lighting or re-lighting. Keep the wax-pool free of wick trimmings, dust, matches and debris at all times.
- Keep burning candles out of drafts and away from air vents.
- Never move a candle when it is burning.
National Candle Association (NCA) is the major trade association representing U.S. candle manufacturers and their suppliers. It is widely recognized as the leading technical authority on candle manufacturing, science and safety. For more information, visit www.candles.org
National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) members are the senior state-level fire safety officials in the U.S., including the District of Columbia. NASFM’s primary mission is to protect human life, property and the environment from fire and related hazards. Visit www.firemarshals.org for more information.
Tis’ The Season To Think Safety
The holiday season is a particularly exciting and busy time for families. And with children out of school for winter recess, it’s also an important time of the year to be mindful of safety. Here are a few simple tips to keep your celebrations safe this holiday season:
- Place your tree or menorah away from fireplaces, radiators or portable heaters.
- In homes with infants and young children, avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable and do not hang trimmings that resemble candy or food that might tempt a young child to eat them.
- Place space heaters, candles and other heat sources at least three feet away from all potentially flammable material such as bedding, furniture and drapes.
- The Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) is urging parents to use cordless window products in young children’s bedrooms and play areas. According to information provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, since 1990, more than 200 infants and young children have died from accidentally strangling in window cords. Replace older window coverings with today’s safer, cordless products.
- Have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary.
- Do not burn gift wrap, paper decorations or dry greenery in the fireplace. They could ignite suddenly, resulting in a flash fire.
- Select toys to suit the age of the intended child. Do not give an infant a toy with small pieces that can be swallowed or inhaled.
- Keep hot liquids and foods out of the reach of children
“By following these simple precautions, parents and caregivers can help provide a safe and happy holiday for the entire family,” said WCSC Executive Director Peter Rush. The Window Covering Safety Council is a coalition of major U.S. manufacturers, importers and retailers of window coverings. Consumers wishing to obtain additional information or replace their older window coverings can visit www.windowcoverings.org
Holiday Lighting Safety Tips
The holidays are one of the busiest and potentially most distracting times of the year, so Dominion Virginia Power is encouraging its customers to be sure to follow safe practices when decorating. “We encourage our customers to enjoy the holidays while remaining as safe as possible,” said Paul D. Koonce, chief executive officer of Dominion Virginia Power. “Lights can add a wonderful touch to the season and do not cost much in terms of electricity, but it is important to use them carefully.”
The company encourages customers to select holiday lighting that uses LEDs (light emitting diodes), which not only use less energy and cost less to operate than incandescent lights but also are safer because they generate less heat.
Dominion Virginia Power safety experts recommend following these tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Virginia Department of Fire Programs regarding holiday lighting:
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “fire resistant.” The label does not mean the tree is not flammable, but it does mean it is more resistant to burning.
- When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, and the needles are hard to pull from branches and do not break when bent between your fingers. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin. When tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
- When putting up a tree at home, set it up away from fireplaces, radiators or other heat sources. Heated rooms dry out live trees rapidly, so be sure to keep the stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of traffic, and do not block doorways.
- Indoors or out, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, such as UL or ETL. Inspect and replace any damaged or frayed sets. Plug outdoor lights only into circuits with a ground fault interrupter. Turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
- Be especially careful to stay away from all power lines when installing or taking down outdoor lights.
Since hundreds of fires and injuries occur every year during the holidays, check out additional safety tips at
“Fires unfortunately claim lives every year during the holiday season,” said Virginia State Fire Marshal Charles E. Altizer. “Most of these could be prevented if we all just took enough care to practice basic safety with our holiday lighting, Christmas trees and other decorations. I urge everyone to be careful this holiday season.” Dominion (NYSE:D) is one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of more than 27,500 megawatts of generation. Dominion operates the nation’s largest natural gas storage systems and serves retail energy customers in 12 states. Additional information on electrical safety is available on the company’s Web site
Keep Holidays Merry and Bright Tips For Holiday Lights
As the holiday season gets under way, Detroit Edison reminds customers that a quick check of electric lights and decorations before installation can provide peace of mind and a safe holiday season.
“Safety should be the first priority when installing holiday lights,” said Larry Kaufman, DTE Energy’s energy efficiency expert. “Just because lights worked effectively last year does not mean that they shouldn’t be inspected this year. A few minutes spent checking cords and plugs for potential hazards reduce the possibility of a fire.”
Every year, tragedy strikes during the holiday season when house fires start because of faulty or damaged electrical cords and improper use of electrical outlets and electrical decorations. Home decorators should use lights only as directed by the manufacturer. Lights should be thrown away if they have frayed wires, damaged sockets or cracked or missing insulation.
Check for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label before stringing lights and setting up other decorations. This label indicates the product has been tested by UL engineers for foreseeable safety hazards such as fire and electric shock. Remember also to check the color of the UL label. Indoor-use only light strings are marked with the UL’s green holographic label, and light strings for indoor and outdoor use have the UL’s red holographic label.
With so many different types of electrical holiday decorations currently on the market, it is important to read the safety, use and care instructions provided with each holiday lighting package and store these instructions with the decorations for reference the following year.
Seasonal lighting is an inexpensive way to put a sparkle in the holidays. Most lights cost from less than one cent to 7.5 cents per string to operate for six hours, depending on the wattage. For lights that blink on and off, the cost is halved. New LED holiday lights are on the market now that can cut lighting costs even more.
ENERGY STAR qualified light strings consume 75 percent less energy and can last 10 times longer than conventional incandescent light strands.
“Decorative LED lights are safer, too,” noted Kaufman. “They’re cool to the touch, reducing the risk of fire, and have no moving parts, filaments or glass, so they’re much more durable and shock-resistant than other light strings.”
Detroit Edison offers these additional tips for keeping the holidays safe:
- Do not overload electrical circuits.
- Do not use more than three sets of standard lights on each extension cord.
- Do not insert new bulbs or change fuses when light sets are plugged in.
- Keep lights away from carpeting, furniture and drapes.
- Turn off decorative lights before you go to bed or leave home.
- Make sure household smoke detectors are working properly.
- When hanging lights around your roofline or in trees, be sure to survey the area for overhead power lines and maintain at least a 20-foot distance.
- Use only outdoor extension cords with molded plugs and sockets.
- Keep all electrical connections off the ground and hang sockets downward to prevent water from seeping into them.
- Do not run electrical cords through door or window openings where they can be damaged.
- For added protection, plug outdoor lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
Detroit Edison is an investor-owned electric utility serving 2.1 million customers in Southeastern Michigan and a subsidiary of DTE Energy (NYSE:DTE) , a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Information about DTE Energy is available at www.dteenergy.com.