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How to Avoid Common Holiday Accidents

Updated on November 4, 2013


The Griswold's Christmas Vacation was a fun film to watch, but funny as it was, it held many truths. A traditional family Christmas is turned into a nightmare in the film. While we laugh at Clark's antics, some of his actions could happen to you!

Uncle Louie burning down the Christmas tree can strike a little too close to home if you're not careful with your Christmas tree....endless cords and lights for your outdoor display can lead to outdoor can you avoid common holiday accidents?

Flameless candle

A nice option when space is limited, the flameless candle is safe!
A nice option when space is limited, the flameless candle is safe! | Source


The first thing to understand about holiday accidents is....they happen! Its amazing how simple things can turn into something horrible. Most of these things demand common sense but when we are celebrating or rushing to decorate, we don't always use common sense.

Take for example, Christmas candles, though this applies to any candles, any time of the year. Everyone loves the look and feel of a candle at Christmas time. Did you know there are more candle fires on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day than any other time of the year? The ambiance of candlelight just adds to the spirit of the holiday, but, what about the placement of the candle? Is it near a curtain or a draft? Another fact about Christmas candle-related fires is that they are one of the most common holiday home hazards. According to, "more than 1,000 injuries and $450 million in direct property damage" are attributed to candles every year (not just Christmas candles)!

Unfortunately another cause of candle fires is unattended candles. Lighting a candle and leaving the room or the house is just asking for trouble. Wind from a window, the candle burning down too far, the candle too close to curtains or a piece of furniture...all ways to start a candle fire.

Make sure your candles are safe. Candle holders should, of course, be fireproof. Candles should be placed in a safe place, away from anything that can catch fire and very important, out of the reach of children. Always, always, make sure candles are totally extinguished before going to bed or leaving the house.

You could consider using the new flameless, battery operated candles. They look nice and pose no threats!

Christmas Tree

When you get that tree home, keep it fresh by keeping it watered.
When you get that tree home, keep it fresh by keeping it watered. | Source

Christmas Tree

Sometimes an artificial tree can be safer.
Sometimes an artificial tree can be safer. | Source

Christmas Trees

Each year we look forward to decorating our Christmas trees. Putting the lights and ornaments on the tree seem to start the season. One of the dangers isn't posed by the Christmas tree itself, but by the "decorator". When you can't reach the top of the tree, get a step ladder, not a chair or table or makeshift ladder. The chances of knocking over the Christmas tree and breaking a bone are much higher when you use the wrong props to get to the top of the tree!

What about the lights on a tree? If they are old or frayed, remove them. They could easily start a fire. Another hazard from tree lights is overloading the tree and or electric socket because of too many lights, overloading the socket is a fire waiting to happen. If you've never seen a Christmas tree fire, here's hoping you never do! Speaking of lights, be careful of outside lights as well. Make sure outlets and plugs are covered so that snow or rain can't get into the plugs and cause a short.

Another safety hazard that is easy to avoid is a dry tree. If you have a real Christmas tree it needs to be watered regularly so that it doesn't dry out. If a fire occurs, a dry tree burns much faster than one that is kept moist. In the video below, the tree on the left is the dry one, the tree on the right is the one that was kept watered. Remember to water your tree frequently!

If you have an artificial tree make sure it is UL tested so that you know the lights are safe. Most artificial trees are built using flame-retardant material...a built in plus. They can be used year after year, they don't shed their needles, but they still need to be kept away from open flames.

Did you know seventy percent of American homes have artificial trees? No matter, the debate over real versus artificial will probably continue for decades. Their appearance has improved immensely and if you shop carefully you can get an artificial tree that looks like any variety you prefer.

Unwrapping Christmas Gifts

Watch for small pieces of paper or ribbon around small children.
Watch for small pieces of paper or ribbon around small children. | Source


Yes, presents, Christmas presents. You're thinking this is not a holiday accident waiting to happen but it can be. The very first concern is small children unwrapping presents. A small piece of wrapping paper or that pretty ribbon can easily become a deadly weapon if a small child swallows it and it gets caught in their throat. Of course the contents of the present can be dangerous to a child as well...small parts, broken toys...make sure toys are sturdy and age appropriate.

When a gift is difficult to open and you need something sharp, use a pair of scissors, not a knife. The use of a knife is asking for trouble. One slip the wrong way and you could be on your way to the emergency room for stitches.

Christmas Cactus Flower

Flowers on a Christmas cactus.
Flowers on a Christmas cactus. | Source


There are many beautiful plants associated with each holiday throughout the year, but, are the facts about the plants known? The berries on holly and mistletoe are dangerous for humans and pets to eat.

One species of mistletoe contains a toxin called phoratoxin, which can cause blurred vision, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, blood pressure changes, and even death. Eating one or two berries will most likely make you sick but wouldn't be that lethal. Eating more than that could. A child or pet could be easily enticed by the little white berries....keep them in an area where little ones can't reach.

The berries on a holly, similarly, will cause no harm if only one or two are eaten. Eating twenty or more, however can cause death.

The berries of Juniper can cause diarrhea and nausea. Eating more than three berries from a Yew (often used in decoration) can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, and changes in your child's heart rate.

While the Christmas cactus is not considered poisonous, any chemicals you use on the plant can change that. As a rule of thumb, animals and children should not be eating this plant. It they do they can wind up with vomiting or other upset stomach symptoms, more than likely from the chemicals, dirt, etc. used with this plant.

Bottom line is, don't let your children or pets eat any of your plants.


Keep your fireplace safe
Keep your fireplace safe | Source


"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire"...what better way to greet Christmas than a fire in the fireplace. Before lighting that fire though, are you sure your chimney is cleaned out? In 2008 there were 386,300 residential chimney fires in the U.S. Its not just cleaning, but are there any cracks in the flue? Keep your fireplace safe. To learn more about chimney safety go to the Chimney Safety Institute of America site.

Fireplace safety:

  • Before you light your fireplace, make sure your chimney is clean and okay
  • Make sure there are no decorations close to your fireplace.
  • NEVER use any flammable liquid to start a fire in a fireplace!
  • Burn only dry and seasoned wood to avoid creosote buildup.
  • Never leave the fireplace burning when it is unattended.
  • When removing ashes from the fireplace use a metal container
  • Never remove ashes while they are hot
  • Never burn paper, cardboard, or any other materials in your fireplace...fireplaces are for wood
  • Before discarding ashes make sure they are out...douse with water


Have a safe and happy holiday by playing it smart. Don't stress out your electrical system...don't leave open flames close to other objects or unattended....use common sense and you'll have a happier, accident free holiday.

Merry Christmas to All!

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved


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    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      Thanks Au fait. I am so glad you stopped here and added your sage advice. I can't for the life of me explain how I left animals out of this equation!

      I am so glad you think this hub is helpful and do hope it really helps someone avoid a tragedy. Thanks so much for the votes and shares!!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      5 years ago from North Texas

      A great reminder article to help people keep themselves and their families safe over the holidays. One thing I would add is keeping pets safe from candles and vice versa. Some of them are more curious than others and all of them are subject to accidents. The big dog that's so excited about something that his wagging tail knocks a candle off the table, or a cat that's having a fit of insanity racing through the house and accidentally knocks a candle off a shelf. Or maybe a dog standing with his tail dipping into the candle -- horrors!

      When I still had a Christmas tree I wrapped the lights on it myself and there were 1800 (an 8' tree) of them. They were the miniature lights but there was still enough of them to heat the living room and close-by areas by themselves when lit. I never dared leave those lights turned on if I was going to be out of that room for more than 2-3 minutes, and I do mean 2-3 and not a single minute more, or if I might fall asleep even in that room. Unexpected things can happen so fast . . .

      This is an excellent check list that everyone should review at the beginning of every holiday season to avoid tragedies.

      Pinned this important article to my "Christmas II" board, voted it up, useful, interesting, awesome, and will share with my followers!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      It is scary but hopefully useful. Hope you have a Merry Christmas and enjoy the season Rebecca.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      This is a really useful compilation of holiday hazzards. Thanks, happy holidays!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I know what you mean Deborah. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas,

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Thank you for reminding us to be careful of these hazards.. I have got a artificial tree p relighted.. when i was young there were so many fires with real trees.. It has scared me throughput the years. when artificial trees came out I bought one.. yes they are a lot better looking over the years.. and candles are so dangerous..

      Merry Christmas.. I pray everyone has a safe one


    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Thanks Michelle, anything we can do to have a safe Christmas.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      I say yes to all these great tips. Thanks for sharing them, Mary, and I pass them on as an important reminder. VUMS!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Thanks Vinaya....I know rushing sometimes causes carelessness, and trying to do too many things at one time leads us astray. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      6 years ago from Nepal

      Marry, you have listed very important points in your hub. Many of us are careless during holiday celebrations, and little thinks we overlook sometime becomes a deadly accidents.

      Thanks for educating us.


    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Thanks Terrye and sad we have to be reminded, but we do!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      6 years ago from Wales

      Interesting and so useful.


    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      6 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Tills, those are some great reminders. Voted up and shared.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Oh Nell, how awful! Thanks for the vote.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Hi, great advice, and who would have thought that about mistletoe? I also totally agree about the fire, only this week and young actress, she was 6, was burned to death by catching her nightie on her grannys fire, so sad, so yes its really important to keep it safe, voted up! nell

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I know bdegiulio, when I saw that video it put my heart in my throat! Thanks for the vote and share...appreciated.

      B2B, I think of you often. I hope things settle so you can do what you have to do. It is nice being near family that's for sure.

      I love the flameless candles mperrottet...they really are neat. My husband thought it was a real candle and told me to blow it out :)

      Thanks Martie...maybe one accident will be avoided.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      What a brilliant idea to list all common Christmas-time accidents. Very well done, Mary!

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 

      6 years ago from San Antonio, FL

      Great advice. When I was a child, my sister and I saw a huge fire that completely burned down a house not too far from ours. I remember feeling so sorry for the poor family, especially around Christmas. Watching the video, it's amazing how quickly trees go up. I love candles, and this year bought a set of three flameless candles - I love them, and they're so much safer. Voted up, useful, interesting, and shared.

    • bac2basics profile image


      6 years ago from Spain

      Hi again Mary. No the recession is hitting hard all over Europe and very little moving. I actually would much rather stay in Spain to be honest, not in the house I have now as there´s such a lot of land that goes with and I am quite isolated too, but nearer to the village. However as I get older I realise I cannot stay in a foreign country on my own forever, and so the decision had to be made. Now it is, I would much rather get on with it, but circumstances at the moment are not good, so I will just have to wait and see. Thank you so much my dear for your loving concern, I really do appreciate my HP friends :) xx

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Mary. Absolutely great tips and advice here. The video of the dry Christmas tree going up in flames was an eye opener. I always worry about candles so we are pretty cautious when placing and lighting them. The Holidays are a great time of the year and nothing can ruin it quicker than an accident or tragedy. Great job. Voting up, sharing, etc....

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Great to see you here B2B! Glad you enjoyed this hub. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and wonderful holiday season....anything new on a move?

    • bac2basics profile image


      6 years ago from Spain

      Hi Tilly. That Christmas tree fire really brought the message home, and everything you suggest in order to have a safe Christmas is really good advice. Seasons greetings to you and yours Mary, I hope you have a fab time :)

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I am truly amazed at how many people of German descent had real candles on their tree without a fire! I lived in a German neighborhood growing up and was always in awe of them!

      Thanks Pamela, I was hoping this would serve as a reminder.

      Gypsy you can certainly understand the dangers of candles then! Thanks for stopping by.

    • Gypsy48 profile image


      6 years ago

      A helpful reminder of how quickly things can go wrong on such a joyous season. I love lots of candles and have had a couple of close calls with them. Thanks for sharing.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      A safe holiday is a happy holiday. You really touched on some important ways to keep your home and family safe. This hub is a very useful reminder. Voted up.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      Very useful hub. Growing up we had real candles on our real tree. It's a German tradition that is quite lovely. Looking back, I realize how dangerous that was and my husband jokes about how that never would have happened in his house. We always had a fire extinguisher near by and the candles were only lit for a few minutes. Of course, it would have only taken a few seconds for the tree to catch fire too.

      We keep candles as far away from the tree as possible. Thanks for this hub. Shared.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      As I wrote and researched this I was a little scared too Bill, thinking of all the people these things could happen to this year alone!

      Thanks Janine. We sometimes miss the little things in our hurry to get things done.

      OMG hohuether, I can't imagine still using candles on a tree! Thanks for the vote.

      That's the sad part peachpurple, people are unaware!

    • peachpurple profile image


      6 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      well done hub. You have listed lots of things we should take note during christmas. Many overlook these problems and accidents occur without realizing the actual reason that caused them. Thanks for sharing.

    • kohuether profile image

      Katherine Olga Tsoukalas 

      6 years ago from New Hampshire

      Up until last week, I lived in Germany. I noticed that many people still do the traditional method of putting candles on the tree! To me, that's a fire waiting to happen. I can't believe some people do that. Great hub! Voted up. :-)

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      6 years ago from New York, New York

      Mary, great share about how to stay safe during the holiday season. Some of these things many might not realize and you truly listed and pointed out the many that could become a problem. Have voted this one way up and shared all over, too!!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well that was a little bit scary, but oh so important. You are right, of course, and these are great suggestions. I have always worried about candles; they are so easy to forget, and so easy to knock over if not paying attention....and Christmas trees, especially when they dry out, are a disaster waiting to happen. Great information here Mary!


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