Holiday Safety Tips for Avoiding Fires and Injuries
CPSC Releases Holiday Safety Tips
WASHINGTON, D.C. - As the holidays approach, the U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging people to look for and eliminate
potential dangers from holiday lights and decorations that could lead to
fires and injuries.
for Avoiding Fires and Injuries
Each year, hospital emergency rooms treat about 8,700 people for
injuries, such as falls, cuts and shocks, related to holiday lights,
decorations and Christmas trees. In addition, Christmas trees are
involved in about 400 fires annually, resulting in 20 deaths, 70
injuries and an average of more than $15 million in property loss and
CPSC conducts surveillance of holiday lights and decorations at
stores nationwide, and this year has prevented the import of 320,398
units of holiday lights that did not meet safety standards.
"Candle lighting ceremonies during Advent, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa
are beautiful traditions," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "But keep
matches, lighters and candles away from children and never leave burning
candles unattended. These simple safety tips will help prevent many of
the 10,000 candle-related fires that occur each year. Stay safe this
holiday season; it's the best gift you can give."
CPSC suggests following these tips to make your holiday a safe one.
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire
Resistant." Although this label does not mean the tree won't catch fire,
it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish
- When purchasing a live tree, check 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 when tapped on the ground, the tree should not
lose many needles.
- When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and
radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure
to keep the stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of
traffic and do not block doorways.
- Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety
by a recognized testing laboratory, which indicates conformance with
- Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets,
frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged
- Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become
charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a
branch could be electrocuted.
- Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been
certified for outdoor use.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm
supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated
staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks. Or, run strings of
lights through hooks (available at hardware stores).
- Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights
could short out and start a fire.
- For added electric shock protection, plug outdoor electric lights and
decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters
(GFCIs). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical
supplies are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household
circuits by a qualified electrician.
- Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree.
Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals.
Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
- Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always
use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be
- In homes with small children, 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 the child swallowing or inhaling
small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may
tempt a child to eat them.
- Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with
spun glass "angel hair." Follow container directions carefully to avoid
lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.
You can also view the article Holiday Decoration Safety Tips for more information.
- Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown
on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense
gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from
- Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result
as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
From the CPSC Release # 01-046