Holiday Decorating Know-How

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…for decorating! ¬†We love to decorate for the holidays and we go all out and sometimes get a little carried away, but with kids and pets and living in base housing, we have to keep safety in mind as well as the regulations of the housing community.

If you haven’t started your outdoor decorations yet, check with your community manager or housing agency for any regulations or restrictions on outdoor decorations. Ours here are fairly easy, specific hours for lighting that starts Thanksgiving Day and runs through the 2nd weekend in January. ¬†For other time periods, we are only allowed outdoor lighting/decorations the week prior to the holiday. Nothing can be attached to the Premises permanently, nothing allowed above the first floor roofline and no canned snow. If you are renting off-base, be sure to read your lease thoroughly and if in doubt, ask your property manager or the homeowner for any restrictions or regulations (gated communities may have CC&R’s that specify what can or can’t be displayed outdoors). Once you have it all figured out, go have fun!

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Decorating safety is fairly universal, no matter where you live. So let’s take a look at some do’s and don’ts for decorating.

Each year, during the 60 days surrounding the winter holiday season, about 11,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms due to decoration-related injuries with falls, cuts, shocks and burns topping the list. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that each year an average of 240 fires involving dried-out Christmas trees result in 16 deaths and $13 million in property damage. An average of 13,000 candle-related fires are estimated by CPSC staff to occur annually, resulting in 170 deaths and $390 million in property damage.

“Deaths, injuries and the millions of dollars in property damage related to holiday-decorating hazards are preventable”, said CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. “Keep the holidays festive, by keeping your family and friends safe from harm.”

DO:

  • Have fun! ¬†Kids really want to join in, so give them their own spot to decorate however they want.
  • Check all electrical cords for wear and tear and replace as needed.
  • Use UL listed decorative lights, decorations, and ornaments.
  • Purchase an¬†artificial holiday tree that is¬†fire-resistant, and place indoor trees away from fireplaces, vents and radiators; don‚Äôt block doorways.
  • Check for freshness of any live tree you purchase.
  • Use¬†only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials when trimming your tree.
  • Take special care to avoid sharp or breakable decorations, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children who could swallow or inhale small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
  • Unplug all holiday lights when you leave¬†your home or go to bed.
  • If using an extension cord, DO make sure it is rated for the intended use.
  • When using lights outdoors, DO check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use and only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.
  • Do plan for emergencies. Have a fire extinguisher and an exit route planned.

DON’T:

  • DON’T use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • DON’T burn wrapping paper or plastic items in the fireplace. These materials can ignite suddenly and burn intensely, resulting in a flash fire.
  • DON’T allow candles to burn unsupervised or near anything that can catch fire and burn easily.
  • DON’T overload outlets.

Find more safety tips from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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