Holiday Safety Tips for Savoring the Season

When it comes to savoring the season, nothing should be more of a priority than holiday safety.

Be it at home, on the road, when decorating, dining or giving gifts, there are some precautions that are readily apparent and others that may go unnoticed.

Review the list below to be sure your holidays are safe for all:

Fire Safety Tips

Keep candles, matches, and lighters out of the reach of children and never leave burning candles unattended. Extinguish all candles before bedtime. Make sure candles are on stable surfaces. Don’t burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace. Make certain your smoke (and carbon monoxide) alarms are in working order. Turn off holiday lights before bedtime or when leaving the house unattended.

Decoration Safety Tips

Use a proper step ladder, not chairs or other furniture for a boost when decorating for the holidays. Make certain holiday lights have no exposed or frayed wires or broken sockets. Do not connect multiple extension cords. Use only electronic products that display regulatory product certification marks from standard testing organizations such as UL, ELT, and CSA to ensure they comply with standards for safety and performance. Keep electrical connectors off the ground and away from metal rain gutters. Beware that spraying artificial snow can irritate lungs and that “angel hair,” made from spun glass, can irritate eyes and skin. Place breakable ornaments or those with metal hooks near the top of your tree, out of the reach of young children and pets.

Tree Safety Tips

Natural and artificial trees are both susceptible to fire. One in three Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems, so make sure your lights are working properly. One in six Christmas tree fires results from having a heat source too close to the tree. Keep trees at least three feet from fireplaces, radiators, candles, and heat vents. Artificial trees should be labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant. Natural trees should be selected with green needles that do not fall off when touched. Water fresh trees daily.

Gift Safety Tips

Beware of toys with small parts that present choking hazards. Small, removable batteries (buttons) can be particularly dangerous. Check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for a list of products recalled. Whether you choose traditional gifts or high tech gifts, make sure they are age-appropriate. Consider helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads along with gifts like bikes and scooters.

Travel Safety Tips

If necessary, employ a designated driver for holiday parties. Buckle up, even for short drives. Resist the temptation to use your cell phone. Have an emergency kit in your car. Be prepared for wintry weather, including ice and snow. Make sure car seats are not only used but securely fastened. Have an exit strategy on road trips, including safe stops to take a break for food, rest or other necessities. Read our other tips for traveling with kids over the holidays.

Food Safety Tips

Wash your hands frequently during preparation. Refrigerate food within two hours of serving. Leftovers will keep for four days when refrigerated. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is completely cooked. Raw meat and poultry should not be rinsed before cooking. Use the holidays to teach older children to cook safely, but be careful around the stove and hot utensils with kids of all ages. See Learning Liftoff’s many holiday food posts for cooking holiday recipes your family will love!

Home Safety Tips

Keep pathways clear from gifts, wrapping paper, and the like. Make sure your tree is not blocking an exit. Keep potentially harmful plants out of the reach of children and pets. Mistletoe berries, holly berries, and some Poinsettias are among potentially poisonous plants. Keep the Poison Control Center Hotline number 1-800-222-1222 handy in case of emergencies. The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has more tips for keeping your pet safe this holiday season.

This safety checklist was compiled with the information from the National Safety CouncilU.S. Fire Administration,, and

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