Holiday safety

By: Health Local Staff Dec 09, 2013
  Article
holiday safety

Many of our favourite holiday activities come with undercover hazards.

The winter holidays are a joyous time of year that keep families and friends busy with an endless stream of activities – many of which can be an undercover hazard. From performing trapeze-esque balancing acts on unsteady chairs while trying get the star on the top of the tree to tying up your brother’s hyperactive kids up with a string of lights, it’s important that Canadians still keep safety at the front of their minds. 

Lighting & Decorations
Holiday lighting poses a significant hidden safety risk in many Canadian homes. Using electronics and appliances with frayed wires and indoor lights being used outside are among the common safety hazards. Here are some extra tips for making sure your decorations and lighting don’t create a holiday catastrophe:

  • Make a point to choose decorations and materials that are made of flame-retardant, flame-resistant, non-combustible materials.
  • To prevent electric shocks, make sure that all outdoor decorations are plugged into circuits that have ground fault circuit interrupters.
  • Never overload the electrical outlets either inside or outside of your home (i.e. each outlet on your power bar should be ONLY for that one appliance).

Tree
Whether you enjoy the convenience of an artificial Christmas tree or you love the invigorating scent of cedar that only a real tree can bring, here are some top tree safety tips to keep your home safe this winter:

  • Choose artificial trees that are “fire-resistant” whenever possible.
  • No matter how much money you can save buying a tree that’s on its last legs, trees should be fresh when purchased. To check for freshness, make sure that the needles are green, that they bend and don’t break when folded, and that they are difficult to pull from branches.
  • Give the tree a steady base so that it won’t tip over and knock out any friends or family members (no matter how much you may will for that to happen).

Entertaining
Apart from developing irreversible smile lines from enjoying your time with friends and family this season, there are some very real dangers involved with entertaining in your home.

  • Keep an eye on the stove. Unattended food on stoves and in ovens is a leading cause of house fires in North America.
  • Make sure that any matches or lighters are placed well out of reach of children and, if possible, kept in a locked cabinet.
  • Double check your smoke alarms before guests arrive and give guests a quick rundown on a fire escape plan when they arrive.

Children and Animals
Kids and pets pose a heightened risk during the holidays. Decorations can appear to be “real” cookies and candy canes can become choking hazards, tinsel can become wound around necks, and those rich, red poinsettias that we all love are poisonous to humans and animals when consumed. Diligence is key if you plan on having kids and pets in your home during the holidays. As a general rule, keep decorations at least half a foot above and away from a young child’s reach, keep sharp objects (including hooks for tree ornaments) out of any area where kids and animals may be, and make sure that a responsible adult is aware of where the children and pets are at all times (threatening to send anyone’s kids home at the end of the night loaded with sugar is handy threat to give to parents who are keeping a less then vigilant eye on their children).

The last tip is simple: don’t forget to have fun, and to be mindful of what’s important during the holidays. Hint: it’s not how much money you spend on people; it’s how much love you bestow on them and how much you receive in return. Happy Holidays!

The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at www.healthlocal.ca.