Christmas Home Safety Tips – by The Barrie Home Inspector
Everyone is home for the Holidays and in North America we all take pride in decorating our homes to celebrate the season. According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, (ROSPA), around 80,000 people suffer accidents and injuries in their homes during the Christmas holidays every year. We are listing some of the more important Holiday Safety Tips to keep you and your family safe this Holiday Season.
Christmas Decorating – The majority of accidents in the home at Christmas time involve using a ladder to hang lights or decorate the tree. Check your step ladder for faulty steps before using and don’t extend your reach while using. Always use your ladder on an even surface and If possible always have someone steady your ladder while using. Most ladders are not designed to support anyone on top step.
Christmas Tree Fires – If you have are choosing your tree remember these tips; if purchasing a “live tree” check the needles to see if they are hard to pull out, bend the needles to ensure they don’t break and the trunk of the tree should be sticky with resin. When choosing an artificial tree ensure the label identifies the tree as being “fire resistant”, although the tree can still catch fire at least it won’t go up in flames instantly.
When setting up your tree ensure it is kept away from heat sources, like radiators and fireplaces. If a live tree have a stand that holds water and cut a few inches off the bottom of the tree so it can absorb water easily.
Candles in the Home – December is the peak time of year for Candle Fires in the home. More than half the candle fires occurred when something was too close to the candle and ignited. Never put candles on your Christmas tree!
Most Christmas Tree fires are caused by shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches.
Christmas Lights – Check every string of lights to ensure they have a label attached from a recognized association such as CSA or UL and that they are certified for outdoor use if hanging on exterior of home. Never attach more than 3 strings of lights to one extension cord. Use insulated staples when attaching strings of lights and plug all your lights into circuits protected with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters.
Fireplaces – Everyone likes a warm comfortable fire during the Holidays. Have your wood burning appliance cleaned at least once a year and if you haven’t used your appliance for a while, have a WETT Certified inspector check your unit to ensure it is safe to use. In Barrie, Orillia, Alliston, Midland, Bradford, New Market or Wasaga Beach you can call the Barrie Home Inspector for all your wood burning needs. Remember not to burn your wrapping paper in your fireplace. The intense heat given off from wrapping paper could start a chimney fire. When hanging your Christmas stockings, ensure they are at least 18 inches away from fireplace opening.
Young Children – Grandparents especially should pay attention to the decorations and items put out in their home during the Holiday Season. Young children can quickly find small items to put in their mouth and any novelties should be placed out of their reach. Also do not let children play with Christmas lights as they have been known to swallow the bulbs. Choking is a very serious hazard for small children and every effort should be made to ensure items like batteries, parts of toys or burst balloons are kept out of their reach.
Kitchen – Cooking the Family Meal for Christmas can be a daunting task. Ensure you have enough time allotted to cook all the ingredients so that you are not rushing while dealing with boiling water and hot fat. Remember to keep your pot handles turned in towards the stove and keep your knives out of reach of any young guests who may wander into the kitchen. Try and keep the clutter during meal preparation to a minimum to prevent problems with electrical cords and cooking utensils. Do not wear loose flowing types of clothing while cooking. Have a cookie sheet and /or a fire extinguisher handy in case you have a pot catch fire while cooking. If a fire starts in your oven, do not open the door, just turn of the heat and allow it to go out on its own.
Falls – Older guests are very susceptible to fall and trip hazards and may suffer a serious injury if one occurs. Check for trip hazards from electrical cords and any steps are kept clear and handrails are fully accessible. Keep a parking spot close to the house open for grandparents and ensure sidewalks are clear and free from ice. Try and seat your older guests so they have easy access in and out of their seats.
Keep your Loved Ones safe and enjoy a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!