Holiday Safety Tips to Keep the Season Merry

By DIANE BECK,  President of the Missoula Organization of REALTORS

Holidays are a time of celebration and fun. With all the extra lights, candles, and decorations of the season, the holidays have the potential to be a time of increased accidents and incidents. Here are some home holiday safety tips to keep your season merry.

Christmas Trees:

  • If you’re purchasing an artificial tree, only buy one with a “Fire Resistant” label on it.
  • Check live trees for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and, when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and the tree should not lose many needles when tapped on the ground.
  • Place trees away from fireplaces, radiators, or portable heaters. Keep them out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • To keep your Christmas tree fresh and to help keep it from drying out and becoming a fire hazard, cut a few inches off the trunk of the tree to expose the fresh wood immediately before putting in water.
  • Keep the live tree stand filled with water to keep tree from drying out, be aware that heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.

Lighting and Decorations

  • Use holiday decorations carefully and choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant, or noncombustible materials.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. For candle decorations, always use non-flammable holders and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • Choose only lights and electrical decorations labeled with the name of an independent testing lab, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and maintenance.
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. Do not overload extension cords.
  • Check your strands of lights to determine the number of strands that may be connected. Connect no more than three strands of push-in bulbs and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.
  • Always unplug lights before replacing light bulbs or fuses.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks. If you have electrical issues, you may consider hiring an electrician for inspection and maintenance.
  • In homes with small children and pets, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid them from swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid decorations that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.
  • Never leave home or go to bed without turn off all light strings and decorations.

With just a small amount of effort, we can all enjoy the magic of the holiday season while still ensuring the safety of loved ones. The Missoula Organization of REALTORS® would like to wish you a very safe and merry holiday season!


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Diane Beck has been selling real estate in Missoula for over 20 years.  Her knowledge, experience and commitment to the community has placed her in the forefront of the real estate market.  Diane is serving the Missoula Organization of REALTORS® as their 2011 President and she continues to strive for the best interests of their members, community and her clients.