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Safety tips for a bright season

Posted December 18, 2013 in Advice Column, Windsor Heights

Very few traditions are as unique to the holiday season as the practice of decorating our homes and yards with twinkling lights and festive decorations. While they definitely add to the magic of the season, some of our favorite holiday traditions also increase our risks for holiday fires and injuries. Luckily, there are steps you can take to ensure a safe, bright and happy holiday season.

Give your holiday story a happy ending with these simple reminders.

•    Consider buying LED-type lights, which use less power and burn cooler than traditional incandescent lights. Always follow the manufacturer’s use and care instructions that accompany your decorations.

•    Carefully inspect each electrical decoration and extension cord before use; discard any damaged items. Cracked sockets, bare or frayed wires and loose connections may cause a serious shock or fire. Determine how many outlets are available and where they are located. Avoid overloading outlets, which can overheat and also cause a fire. Never connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together. Do not pinch cords in windows or doors, or under heavy furniture, which can damage the cord’s insulation.

•    When decorating outside always use a ground fault circuit interrupter protected outlet outdoors. Make sure all decorations and extension cords are marked for outdoor use. Exercise caution when decorating near overhead power lines. Use a wooden or fiberglass ladder instead of metal. Outdoor extension cords and lights should be kept clear of standing water and snow throughout the season.

•    Christmas trees are an important holiday tradition for many families. If purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree will stay green longer and is less of a fire hazard than a dry tree. Heated rooms dry out live trees rapidly. Place the tree at least three feet away from all heat sources, including fireplaces and space heaters. Be sure to keep the stand filled with water. For artificial trees, look for the label “fire resistant,” indicating that the tree is more resistant to burning. Decorate your tree, live or artificial, with non-combustible or flame resistant materials. Never use burning candles on or near your tree.

Whether your house is the most festive on the block or you prefer a more low-key decorating style, make safety an important part of your decorating tradition. Don’t let your holiday story end with a decorating disaster.

Have a safe and happy holiday season from Matt Cale State Farm.

Information provided by Matt Cale, State Farm Insurance, 6733 University Ave., Windsor Heights, 280-9000.

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