How to Avoid Common Holiday Accidents
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 disaster...how can you avoid common holiday accidents?
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 Safetyathome.com, "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!
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
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
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 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. Christmas cactus
Bottom line is, don't let your children or pets eat any of your plants.
"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.
- 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!
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