Alarms of Berkshire County

Decking the Halls—Safely

Posted on

Bells and baubles, bows and boughs—’tis the season for all the decorations that bring Christmas cheer to your home! Unfortunately, this is also the season for the highest risk of residential fires. Learn how to protect your home and family with our safe decorating tips.

With Christmas trees sparkling in windows and homes glowing with lights, it’s easy to forget how dangerous these beautiful decorations can be. But the facts tell a different story: home fires peak in December and January, and Christmas is the #2 day of the year for fires (second only to Thanksgiving). But by following safety guidelines and using common sense, you can keep the holidays merry, bright, and safe.

Keep your tree well-watered. A dry Christmas tree is like a tinderbox—one that you’ll be placing by a heater and covering in electrical cords. Before you take your tree home from a farm or roadside stand, ask to have a couple of inches cut off the trunk; this fresh cut will help the tree take in adequate water during its stay in your home. Then, be sure to check the water level in the tree stand each day.

Start off by making smart selections. When buying lights and other electric decorations, look for UL listed products. This certification means the product has passed Underwriter Laboratories’ safety requirements.

Inspect strands before hanging. In addition to avoiding a National Lampoon-style disappointment at the moment of drumroll, this step ensures that you’ll spot (and discard) any damaged light strands with fraying cords or loose connections.

Plan your path. Before beginning, plan how you’ll connect light strands together. New LED lights will have a maximum number of strands stated on the box; incandescent strands should max out after three connected strands. You’ll want to string them so that the male end of the strand can be plugged into your outlet. (There are no legal male-male adapters on the market because this is a dangerous fire hazard.) If needed, you can use a single extension cord to connect your lights to the outlet—but be sure it’s rated for outdoor use. For indoor decorations, ensure that cords won’t be pinched by furniture or lying across high-traffic areas where they can become damaged.

Remember to say goodnight. Use a timer to automatically turn lights and electric decorations off at a set time each night, or make it part of your routine to hit the switch before you hit the hay.

Be careful with candles. They fill your home with a warm glow and wonderful scent, but candles can also send your risk of a fire soaring, acting as a culprit in almost half of all home decoration fires. Wherever possible, switch to using battery-operated candles. New designs can look very realistic, and many even come with a remote control, making them the more convenient choice as well as the safer one. When using real candles, never leave them unattended, and place them in a safe spot—far away from flammable items, pets, and the Christmas tree.

Have working smoke alarms installed—no matter the season. Fully functional fire alarms in the right locations can make all the difference when tragedy strikes. If you’re not sure if your current alarms are trustworthy, or if you want to enhance your protection with our testing and maintenance services or 24/7 monitoring, contact Alarms of Berkshire County now.