Decorate for the Holidays - SAFELY

It’s the time of year when homes get decked out for the holidays.  It should be a time of good cheer and festive lighting but there are many hazards that need to be avoided.  Here are few tips to help you decorate for the season safely.



  • Artificial trees should have a “Fire Resistant” label.  This label does not mean the tree won't catch fire, but it does signify that the tree should resist burning and extinguish quickly.
  • You can check for the freshness of a live tee by gently holding a branch and running your hand along the branch.  The needles should not come off.  Look for deep green trees with branches that do not break when bent between your fingers.  Tap the tree gently on the ground and the tree should not lose many needles.  Also, cut off the bottom of the trunk to give the tree a fresh cut.  This allows it to drink up more water.
  • Be sure to place trees (any type) away from fireplaces, heat registers and radiators.  Live trees can dry out quickly so be certain to keep the tree stand full of water at all times.
  • Don’t block doorways or traffic paths with the tree.  And never, ever use candles on a tree of any kind!



  • Only use lights that have been tested for safety and have a label from Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or another recognized testing laboratory.
  • Always check each set of lights, whether they are new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires and loose connections. Do not use damaged sets.  Always replace bulbs promptly with the same type and wattage bulbs. Using the wrong bulbs can cause overheating.
  • Make sure extension cords are rated for the intended use.
  • Check labels to be sure the lights you intend to use outdoors are certified for outdoor use.
  • When hanging lights, stay away from the electric power lines that may run from utility poles to your home.  And, keep the ladder a very safe distance away as well.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to protect the lights from wind damage.  Use plastic eave hooks to run strings of lights on the eaves.
  • Turn off all of your lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
  • Use caution when removing outdoor lights. Never pull or tug on lights – they could unravel.
  • Always plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground-fault circuit-interrupters (GFCIs). 


  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to decorate a tree.  Choose nonleaded tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals.
  • Always use non-flammable candle holders, and position them where they will not be knocked over.
  • Decorations that are sharp or breakable should be avoided.  Trimmings that have small parts or removable parts should be kept out of the reach of children.  Also, trimmings that resemble food or candy may tempt a child so avoid them as well.   
  • It is not a good idea to burn wrapping papers in the fireplace.  A flash fire could be the result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.                                       


Note: These tips are only guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have any questions.  Brought to you by Bing Fountain, Calgary REALTOR® & DreamScape Realty.  Calgary real estate professional.  Find your next home in Calgary.

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