Red and green Christmas tree ornaments in a clear bowl

Photo source: UF/IFAS Northwest District

The holiday season is here and, with it, many colorful decorations, delicious treats, and fun events.  There also are hidden dangers that can mar this special time of year if we aren’t careful.  Follow these twelve tips for a safe holiday celebration:

  1. To reduce fire risk, do not connect more than three strings of incandescent lights.  Follow label guidelines for stringing together LED lights.  Check lights for frayed or exposed wires, loose connections, and broken sockets and replace as needed.
  2. Place candles on stable surfaces away from trees, curtains, and other flammable items and out of reach of children.  Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle.  Consider using battery-operated candles.
  3. Use caution when decorating with “angel hair” and artificial snow.  Angel hair is made from spun glass and can irritate eyes and skin; always wear gloves when handling or use non-flammable cotton instead.  Artificial snow can irritate your lungs if inhaled; follow package directions carefully.
  4. Keep kids and pets in mind when decorating the tree.  Place breakable ornaments or ones with metal hooks near the top out of reach of little hands, playful paws, and wagging tails.
  5. Use a sturdy step ladder, not chairs or other furniture, to reach high places.  Get someone to “spot” you and assist with handing or taking items.
  6. If you use a fireplace, have your chimney checked and cleaned at least once a year by a certified chimney sweep.  Cleaning removes soot and other by-products that can lead to chimney fires and carbon monoxide intrusion into your living space.
  7. Use special care when giving toys that use coin lithium batteries to children.  Older children’s devices with these batteries can be enticing to young children.  Ingestion of button batteries can cause serious injury or death.  Lock away spare batteries and closely supervise young children around products with button batteries.  In case of ingestion, contact the 24-hour National Battery Ingestion Hotline, (800) 498-8666.
  8. If you want to fry a turkey, consider using an oil-less turkey fryer or purchase a fried turkey from a professional establishment.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that since 2002, there have been 168 turkey-related fires, burns, explosions, or carbon monoxide poisoning incidents, 672 injuries, and $8 million in property damage.  Don’t add to the statistic count!
  9. Use a food thermometer to ensure meat reaches a safe internal temperature.  Click here for a convenient temperature chart.
  10. Refrigerate food within two hours. Cut leftover meat in small pieces and store foods in shallow containers so they will chill quickly.  Use leftovers within four days or freeze or discard.
  11. Reheat sauces, soups, and gravies to a rolling boil before serving.
  12. Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water to reduce your risk of illness.

Have a happy, healthy holiday season!

Sources:
National Safety Council
Chimney Safety Institute of America
Electrical Safety Foundation International