Tips for a Safe Holiday Season

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Oregon Clinic

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates there were 15,000 injuries involving holiday decorating seen in emergency departments nationwide during November and December 2012. In addition, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) statistics indicate that 30% of all home fires and 38% of home fire deaths occur during the months of December, January, and February.

Keep yourself, your home, and your loved ones safe this holiday season by making sure that you protect against preventable, avoidable accidents.

Candle Safety

  • Always keep a burning candle within sight. Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or before going to sleep.
  • Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire. Keep burning candles at least 12 inches away from furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets, books, paper, flammable decorations, etc.
  • Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Always use a candleholder specifically designed for candle use. The holder should be heat resistant, sturdy, and one that won’t tip over easily.
  • Be sure the candleholder is placed on a stable, heat-resistant surface.
  • Be careful when lighting candles. Keep hair and loose clothing away from the open flame.
  • Keep burning candles away from drafts, vents, ceiling fans, and air currents.
  • Don’t burn a candle all the way down. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when 2 inches of wax remains or ½ inch if in a container.
  • Never use candles if oxygen is being used in the home.
  • Consider using the safest possibility: battery-operated flameless candles. They are widely available and operate on batteries rather than flame. They look and smell just like real candles!

Holiday Decorations

  • Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Use indoor lights indoors, and outdoor lights outdoors.
  • Replace strings of lights that are worn, broken, or have loose bulb connections.
  • Use clips, not nails or staples, to hang lights so that the cords do not get damaged.

Christmas Tree Safety

  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2″ from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fire places, radiators, candles, heat vents, or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the stand, and be sure to add water daily.
  • Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.  Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn Christmas tree lights off before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Get rid of the tree after Christmas or when it’s dry.

Holiday Cooking Safety

  • Never walk away from a hot stove–always watch what you heat.
  • Whenever handling hot materials, use oven mitts or other heat-safe materials.
  • When working with grease, keep the burner on no higher than medium. Always keep a lid nearby when working with grease.
  • If a grease fire occurs, extinguish the fire with a lid. Never throw anything on the grease fire or try to take the pan outside!
  • Don’t wear lose or dangling clothing when cooking. Keep long hair pinned or tied up.
  • Keep young children and pets out of the kitchen while cooking.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove.
  • If you use a BBQ pit for holiday cooking, never add gasoline as an accelerant.

General Home Safety

  • Talk with your family about an escape plan if a fire does occur.
  • Make sure that you have recently tested all the smoke alarms in your home.
  • Set a safe hot water temperature: your hot water heater should not allow temperatures to reach above 100°F (38°C).
  • If you use a firepit or fireplace in your celebrations, never add gasoline as an accelerant.

Most importantly, if you or a loved one experiences a burn, consult a physician immediately.

Surgical and Burn Specialists
501 N Graham St. Suite 555
Portland, OR 97227
Phone: (503) 288-7535
Fax: (503) 288-7538