Preventing Accidental Injury.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 28, 2011
KDHE Office of Communications
Decorate Safely for the Holidays
Safe Kids Kansas offers holiday safety reminders
Topeka -- Holiday decorations, especially candles and electrical lighting, can be a fire hazard. Safe Kids Kansas reminds parents and caregivers to take precautions when decorating for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and other winter festivities.
“Never, never leave burning candles unattended,” says Cherie Sage, State Director of Safe Kids Kansas. “Don’t put candles on a tree or a natural wreath, or near curtains or drapes. Keep matches and lighters locked out of reach.”
From 2004-2008, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) estimates that decorations were the item first ignited in an estimated average of 1,170 reported home structure fires per year. Half of these fires occurred because the decoration was too close to a heat source. Forty-five percent of these incidents were started by candles. The top five days for home candle fires were Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Day, Halloween and December 23. Battery-operated flameless candles are an alternative that do not have a fire risk.
“Decorative lighting should be labeled with the seal of an independent testing lab,” says Sage. “If it’s not labeled for outdoor use, don’t use it outdoors.”
If you decorate a tree, Safe Kids Kansas recommends these precautions:
- Never leave a lit Christmas tree or other decorative lighting display unattended. Inspect lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections and broken sockets. Do not overload extension cords or outlets and do not run an electrical cord under a rug.
- Natural Christmas trees always involve some risk of fire. To minimize the risk, get a fresh tree and keep it watered at all times or consider an artificial tree. Do not put the tree within three feet of a fireplace, space heater, radiator or heat vent. LED lights burn cooler than incandescent lights and pose a lower risk of fire.
- Decorate with children in mind. Do not put ornaments that have small parts or metal hooks, or look like food or candy, on the lower branches where small children can reach them. Trim protruding branches at or below a child’s eye level, and keep lights out of reach.
- Do not burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood or wrapping paper in a home fireplace.
Safe Kids Kansas also offers these tips to prevent accidental poisoning:
- Keep alcohol (including baking extracts) out of reach and do not leave alcoholic drinks unattended. Don’t forget to store all medications, including those for children, out of reach.
- Color additives used in fireplace fires are a toxic product and should be stored out of reach. Artificial snow sprays are also harmful if inhaled.
- Holly berries, mistletoe berries, poinsettias, amaryllis, boxwood, Christmas rose, Crown of Thorns, English ivy and Jerusalem cherry are all potentially harmful if eaten. If a child eats any part of a non-food plant, call the Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.
For more information, visit www.safekids.org.
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