With the arrival of winter and the approach of the holiday season, the need to pay extra attention to safety becomes more essential than ever when it comes to home heating appliances and new décor like Christmas lights and holiday candles around the house. As you begin to turn the furnace up, plug in the extra foot heater and decorate your home for the holidays, here are some easy tips to watch out for to ensure that your home stays warm, festive, and safe, especially if you have little ones in the home.
Warm, Festive and Safe this Holiday Season
The Christmas season tends to be when fireplaces see the most use. There’s just nothing quite like sitting in front of the Christmas tree with the fire roaring nearby. However, if you have toddlers in the house, the very easiest way to ensure their safety is to consider some baby gate to enclose the entire fireplace area fully. This will prevent any possible danger, and if you have an electric fireplace, eliminate the potential for switches or knobs to get turned up and overheat excessively, a potential cause of a chimney fire. Side note: If you do not have a fireplace but have been considering one, make sure to opt for one with safe-to-touch glass for the young ones in your home. This way, even without a baby gate, you can avoid little fingers getting too hot.
Hang Lights High, if At All
While most of us think the biggest danger of Christmas lights lies in the plug-in or the breakable glass, the biggest danger is actually a hidden one. Most of today’s Christmas lights are made with a plastic that often has a lead coating on the plastic. This level of lead will vary greatly, but even a tiny amount to a little one can make them very ill. If you do plan on hanging lights, make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards so that the lead on your hands does not transfer to a little one, and then make sure to hang the light strands high and out of reach of the reach of little fingers, for we all know how often those fingers end up in their mouth. If you have wires along the ground, consider placing wide tape over the top for the entire length of the strand. This will both eliminate the potential for tripping or unplugging; it will also keep the strings covered. This will also make your lights safe for any pets in the home.
Keep “Lighters” Out of Reach
When the holidays and cold winter days are here, there are likely to be matches and lighters lying around in much greater abundance than any other time of year. As you use them, make sure you have a specific container, well out of reach of children, that you then immediately put them back in.
Keeping the Tree Safe
While it may seem festive to have the tree near the fireplace, you want to make sure that it is at a very safe distance from your fireplace and all sources of heat, including baseboard heaters, any small portable heaters you might use for extra warmth and also your door way exits. The last thing you want is for your doorway to be blocked with a tree if any emergency occurs. Ensuring that your tree is well-watered at all times will help prevent it from drying out and becoming a greater potential fire hazard risk. And, if you opt for an artificial tree, your best option is to make sure that it is labeled as flame-retardant.
You never want to overload your circuit with lights and accessories, and overloading electrical outlets is also dangerous. Instead, distribute plug-ins evenly and be wary of frayed cords or burnt out lights. Your best bet is always to immediately replace the frayed strand or dead light bulb.
Use Portable Heaters in the Open
Finally, many of us in the wintry-winter areas often use extra portable heaters in the winter months to take the chill off in a room. If you happen to have one running this season, make sure that it is a safe distance from things like the tree, garland, tinsel, etc. Also, if you have one running on Christmas morning, keep that paper safely stashed away from the heater! (Christmas paper should never be tossed in the fireplace either, it can cause an excessive burst of flame that can be dangerous).
With Precaution, You can be Stress Free!
While all of these precautions may seem overwhelming, that is certainly not the feeling I hope you finish with. Rather, when we know what precautions we should take and make every effort to do so, we can relax knowing that we’ve done everything we can to ensure that our family stays safe and warm throughout the holidays and the remainder of the winter season. So, sit back, grab a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy your tree and your fireplace too!
Jocelyn Anne writes for Air & Water and helps promote safe heating content. At the moment, she’s working on exciting content for her favorite fireplaces, the Dimplex electric fireplace heaters