Decorating safety: Don't be Clark Griswold this holiday season

Posted by Buck Bania, M.D.
November 24, 2015

Holiday Decorating_medium

The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but while you’re stringing lights and decorating the tree, make sure your home is both festive and safe.

When hanging decorations or lights on the outside of your home, ensure the ladder you use is placed on firm, level ground. Having a “spotter” can be helpful. This person can stand at the bottom, holding the ladder and watch the person on the ladder to help ensure their safety. If you’re using an extendable ladder that leans against the wall, make sure it extends past the height to which you’re trying to climb to increase stability.

Be careful with inside decorations as well. When you place a tree in a tree stand it should be flush to the ground so it can’t tip over. Decorate evenly across the whole tree so it’s not lop-sided. Be careful with small ornaments, as they can be choking hazards for both small children and pets. If you plan on getting a live tree, keep it well watered, to reduce flammability. Here’s a tip if you plan on purchasing a live tree:  Bounce the trunk on the ground to test how dry the tree is — if you see a shower of needles, the tree is too dry. If you plan on getting an artificial tree, know that most are made of flame-resistant material.

Watch your electrical outlets, too. A dangerous electrical outlet is one that has too many plugs inserted. If your outlet has a six-outlet extender attached to another six-outlet extender, you may want to rethink things. If you’re limited to only one or two outlets to plug in your lights, use power strips that have built-in circuit breakers.

If you like to use candles to decorate your home around the holidays, never use them on or near your tree. Be sure to keep the candles in places where they cannot get knocked over or easily grabbed by a small child. Candles should also be placed in non-flammable holders.

These are just a few safety tips for decorating your home, but with them you should be able to have a safer and jollier holiday season.

Buck Bania, M.D., is a Family Medicine provider on the Austin campus of Mayo Clinic Health System – Albert Lea and Austin.

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