Holiday Hazards: Avoiding Disasters from Decorations

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The holidays are here but decoration without preparation can lead to possible hazard.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says about 12,500 people every year make a visit to the emergency room due to falls, cuts, shocks and burns related to holiday decorating.

Even Christmas trees, a regular tradition for those observing Christmas, are involved in almost 300 fires annually. This leads to an average of 20 deaths, 40 injuries and about $8 million in property losses.

However, the bigger hazard comes in the form of candles. The Product Safety Commission says nearly 15,000 candle-related fires occur each year, resulting in 170 deaths and $327 million in property damage and losses.

These statistics in mind, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has issued a consumer alert to provide Arkansans with important holiday decorating tips for safety.

  • If purchasing an artificial tree, make sure it is fire resistant;
  • When purchasing a live tree, check freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and do not break when bent between your fingers. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles;
  • Do NOT display electric lights on a metallic tree;
  • Only use lights that have been tested for safety by a nationally-recognized testing laboratory, such as UL or ETL/ITSNA. Use only newer lights that have thicker wiring and are required to have safety fuses to prevent the wires from overheating;
  • Plug all outdoor lights into circuits with ground faults to avoid shock;
  • Never overload an electrical outlet by plugging too many decorations into it at once;
  • Turn off all lights and electrical decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. If the lights short out, they could cause a fire.

For a holiday safety checklist from Reader's Digest, click here.