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This festive time of year finds many of our homes decorated, inside and out, with symbols of the season. From lighted trees to candle displays, and from strands of garland to lighted porcelain figurines. While many of these may seem all-too-familiar, many may not realize the potential hazards such decorations can create.

More than 16,000 injuries involving holiday decorating resulted in emergency room visits in 2019, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 230 home fires each season involving Christmas trees.

Here is a good checklist to follow to ensure your family's safety during the holiday season:

  • If using an artificial tree, check that it is labeled “fire resistant”

  • If using a live tree, cut off about 2 inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption, remember to water it and remove it from your home when it is dry

  • Place your tree at least 3 feet away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources, making certain not to block doorways

  • Avoid placing breakable ornaments or ones with small, detachable parts on lower tree branches where small children can reach them

  • Only use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors, and choose the right ladder for the task when hanging lights

  • Replace light sets that have broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections

  • Never nail, tack or stress wiring when hanging lights and keep plugs off the ground away from puddles and snow

  • Turn off all lights and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house

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