It's that time of year when we say goodbye to hurricane season and hello to holiday season. The excitement of seasonal holiday decorations, such as Christmas lights and Hanukkah menorahs, wreaths and Christmas trees, often overshadow the inherent danger within -- including electrical shocks, slip and falls, and choking hazards. Before you begin unraveling the tangle of last year's Christmas lights and dust off the menorah, make sure you follow these safety tips to help keep you and your family off the ER's waiting list.
Check for frayed or exposed wires
Over time, the protective plastic that covers the wires connecting your Christmas lights can become worn, leading to fraying and tearing. This is especially dangerous for pets and small children. Inspect the length of your lights, including the plug, to ensure there are no exposed parts that may cause electrocution or other shocks.
Use a timer for your outdoor and indoor lights
There's no doubt that your Christmas lights bring a warmth to the exterior of your home, and the charm of your tree. But, do you really need those lights on 24/7? Pick up a timer to allow your lights to turn off while you are sleeping or away from home for extended periods of time. After all, you leave cookies and milk out for Santa, not the firemen!
Keep candles away from other flammable objects
While many households use electric menorahs, the Jewish candelabra used to commemorate the eight nights of Hanukkah, traditional candle menorahs are equally as popular. A candle-lit menorah should be kept away from blinds and drapes if by a window, as well as away from any other flammable objects. Opt for a multipurpose lighter (ideally with a safety button) instead of a match to reduce accidental burns when lighting the candles.
Have someone hold the ladder
Before you get the ladder out of the garage, do two things: check for any broken rungs or legs, and find someone to spot you. Ladders with loose or missing parts should definitely not be used. Wear shoes with slip-resistant soles and have an assistant nearby in case you need something on the ground, and to help hold the ladder steady.
Keep fresh trees away from outlets and wires
There's hardly anything more Christmas-y than the smell of a freshly cut spruce, fir or pine tree. Just like any other plant, your Christmas tree needs watering to help keep it alive and healthy for the season. Make sure the base of the Christmas tree, which also collects excess water to nourish your tree, is away from electrical outlets. Also, be sure not to overwater the tree, as pooling water can be a slip and fall hazard, particularly on non-carpeted floors.
Hang ornaments with care
Shiny, glittery ornaments aren't just appealing to adults—small children and pets may also be attracted to these glowing orbs. Keep your children's and pet's safety in mind and hang tree ornaments on the lower branches of the tree. Placing ornaments closer to the bottom of the tree can help limit your child's (or pet's) desire to pull or jump on the tree for a closer look. Also, opt for fabric or string to secure your ornaments instead of metal hooks, which can be a choking hazard.
Beware of choking hazards
Small ornaments, fallen tree needles, tinsel and lightbulbs are all chocking hazards, particularly to small children. If it's small enough to fit in a child's mouth, be careful that it doesn't end up in your child's hands!
The attorneys and staff at the Law Offices of Schiller, Kessler & Gomez want to wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous holiday season. We understand the holidays are hectic enough without the added stress of accidents and injuries. Our phone lines are open 24/7 to accommodate you wherever you are. If you or a loved one is injured in an accident during the holidays, don't hesitate to call us at (800) 350-FIRM.