The holidays are here and that means trees, lights, and other decorations going up in and around employees’ homes. Help your workers have a happy—and safe—holiday season.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), hundreds of home fires start every year with Christmas trees, and candles cause thousands of home fires. Many deaths and injuries as well as millions of dollars in property damage are attributable to these two common holiday decorations.
Here are some seasonal safety tips you can use in safety meetings this month to help keep your workers and their families safe at home during the holidays.
NFPA recommends these safety tips for Christmas trees:
- Select a fresh tree. Look for green needles that don’t fall off when you touch or shake the branch. For artificial trees, look for a label that says it is fire retardant.
- Cut an inch or two off the bottom of the trunk of live trees. This will allow the tree to absorb water better and keep it fresher, longer.
- Place trees well away from radiators, fireplaces, wood stoves, and other heat sources.
- Keep trees well watered. This means adding water every day!
- Buy tree lights that have been approved by a testing laboratory like UL. There should be a label that says so—or the box should say so.
- For outdoor trees, use only lights certified for outdoor use. Never use indoor lights outside. Also make sure that extension cords are intended for outdoor use.
- Read manufacturer’s instructions about how many strands of lights you can connect safely.
- Turn off Christmas tree lights before going to bed or leaving the house.
- When the holiday is over, it’s time to get rid of the tree. Even a well-watered tree will start to die and dry out after a few weeks and become a fire hazard. Put the tree outside for pick up and disposal. Don’t leave it in the garage or basement where it could become a fire hazard.
NFPA recommends these safety tips for candles:
- Don’t light holiday candles if you have pets or young children in the house. Lighted candles could easily be knocked over and start a fire. Use flameless candles instead for the festive look and scent.
- Never leave candles burning when you leave a room.
- Keep candles a good foot away from anything that can burn (curtains, papers, books, etc.).
- If you do light candles, make sure they are in a holder with a wide, heavy base that will help prevent lighted candles from tipping over.
- Be careful when lighting candles, making sure your clothing and hair are not going to catch fire.
- Replace candles before they burn all the way down (when there’s only an inch or two left).
Tomorrow, some suggestions for a holiday season safety meeting to help prevent impaired-driving accidents and DUIs among employees.