The holidays are a magical time, but Christmas traditions, decor, and celebrations can lead to accidents (or worse) if you're not careful. Here's how to keep your family safe and healthy through to the New Year.
1. Your tree is a fire risk — even if it's fake: While Christmas tree fires aren't super common in our area, when they do happen, they're likely to be serious. So, keep your tree at least three feet away from all heat sources such as fireplaces, radiators, and heat vents. If you have a real tree, remember to keep it watered and use electric lights – not candles – to light it up. Be sure to choose a sturdy stand so the tree won't tip over.
2. Don't overdo it on the lights: As much as you may want to cover every inch of your house with lights, you may have to scale back depending on your outlets. Check the packaging for the power output and never plug in more than what a power strip or outlet says it can handle. Use indoor lights, indoors. Use outdoor lights, outside. Be sure to unplug indoor lights when you leave the house.
3. Candles are pretty, but they're still open flames: December is the peak time of year for candle-related house fires, according to the NFPA. Keep lit candles at least 12 inches away from surrounding objects. Trim wicks to a quarter of an inch before you light them and never leave lit candles unattended.
4. Never toss anything but logs into your fireplace: Don't try to burn evergreens or wreaths in a fireplace or wood stove. Tree needles burn much faster than logs, creating sparks, which can fly into the room or onto the roof. They can also cause a build-up of creosote, a highly flammable compound, in the chimney. Don't burn wrapping paper, because it can contain metallic materials that could be hazardous to breathe in.
Make sure the fire is out and the embers have cooled before you leave the house or go to bed. Put the ashes in a metal bin that's at least 25 feet away from the house. Have your chimney professionally serviced annually.
5. Watch the clutter: Extra decorations means more tripping hazards!
6. Festive favorites aren’t safe for everyone: Candy canes and candy can become a choking hazard for wee ones! Holiday cooking can contain allergens that aren’t safe for some in your cohort – be sure to ask about allergies.
7. Don’t forget the outside of your house: Keep your driveway and walkways clear of ice and snow. Be mindful when decorating the exterior of your home to not impede access points for first responders – our gear takes up more room than you think. Be extra careful as you're shoveling your property and pace yourself so you don’t tire yourself out. Wear proper boots with enough traction and “walk like a penguin” on slippery surfaces, taking small, slow steps.
8. Play safely: If you’re planning to enjoy some outdoor time, plan your trip for the conditions and your experience-level, wear the appropriate gear and tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll return.
On behalf of the members of Redwood Meadows Emergency Services and our families, we wish you a safe, happy, covid-aware holiday season and a happy new year! If you need help, dial 9-11 (do not call the station as the phones aren’t manned) and we’ll be on our way to you as quickly as we can.