Make your Christmas a safe one

Published 4:28 pm Friday, November 23, 2018

Christmas is the most wonderful — and potentially dangerous — time of the year.

According to Electrical Safety Foundation International, on average 260 home fires begin with Christmas trees every year. Twelve people died, 24 are injured and $16.4 million in property damage is done. Those statistics just as harrowing when it comes to Christmas decorations: an estimated 1,170 fires a year begin with decorations, leading to an average eight deaths, 54 injuries and $19.1 million in damages. An additional 150 home fires per year begin with holiday lights and other decorative lighting, causing another 8 deaths, 16 injuries and $8.9 million in property damage each year, according to EFSI.

There’s also the issue of candles: Christmas, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day are the top three days of the year for candle fires.

In the days after Thanksgiving, those purchasing a live tree for the coming Christmas are usually out pounding the pavement trying to find the perfect one. The most popular options are the Fraser fir and white pine trees, and the most important thing about their care is that live tree-owners keep those trees plenty hydrated. Thanks to a tip from Beaufort County Extension Area Horticulturalist Gene Fox, we now know that once those trees are home, the bottom inch of the trunk should be removed (if it hasn’t already been done by the tree-seller) and the bottom placed in hot water, so hardened sap does not prevent the tree from taking in water. In the first 24 hours, the tree should be watered as many as three different times.

Check the wiring on any and all decorations, including accessories such as extension cords. Extension cords are their own hazard, and should be kept out of the line of walking traffic: each year, approximately 4,000 emergency room visits are because of extension cords: fractures, cuts, bruising and sprains from people tripping over them, and, for children, half of those visits involve electrical burns to the mouth from extension cords.

Before the new Christmas tree is decorated, take a moment to make sure your home’s smoke alarms are working. Water the tree, frequently. Toss out old extension cords. Make sure Christmas tree lights are used for the purpose for which they’re intended.

Be proactive this holiday season and make your Christmas a safe one.