December 2009 Safety Tip

AESA Bulletin

Arizona Emergency Services Association

12 Holiday Safety Tips

Beware of Holiday Candles – Take care when burning candles.Be sure they are kept away from decorations or other combustible materials.Don’t leave children unattended in a room with lit candles, and always keep candles, as well as matches and lighters, out of reach of children.Never display lighted candles in windows or near exits.

Test Tree Trimmings – When decorating with lights, be sure to purchase only those labeled by a testing laboratory. Never use candles to decorate Christmas trees. For outside decorations, use only those lights labeled for outdoor use. Don’t overload electrical outlets, and always unplug all lights before leaving home or going to bed. Never put electrical lights on a metal Christmas tree.

Prepare for Holiday Parties - Decorate only with flame-retardant or noncombustible materials. Avoid using candles during parties. If guests will be smoking, provide them with large, deep ashtrays and check them frequently. After the party, check inside and under upholstery and in trashcans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering.

Keep Christmas Trees Fresh – Choose a fresh Christmas tree and secure it in a sturdy stand. Place the tree away from heat sources and exits, and water it daily. If you purchase an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire-retardant.

Inspect Fireplaces – Have your chimney inspected by a professional prior to the start of every heating season and cleaned if necessary. Creosote, a chemical substance that forms when wood burns, builds up in chimneys and can cause a chimney fire if not properly cleaned.Always protect your family and home by using a sturdy screen when burning fires. Remember to burn only wood – never burn paper or pine boughs, which can float out the chimney and ignite a neighboring home. Never use flammable liquids in a fireplace. If you are purchasing a factory-built fireplace, select one listed by a testing laboratory and have it installed according to local codes. Do not use your fireplace on designated “no-burn” days. If you plan to hang stockings on your fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.

Watch Your Wood Stoves – Be sure your wood or coal stove bears the label of a recognized testing laboratory and meets local fire codes. Follow manufactures recommendations for proper use and maintenance. Chimney connections and chimney flues should be inspected at the beginning of each heating season and cleaned if necessary. Follow the same safety rules for wood stoves as you would for space heaters. Burn only wood and be sure the wood stove is placed on an approved stove board to protect the floor from heat and hot coals. Be sure to check with your local fire department and check local codes before having your wood stove installed.

Be Cautious With Portable and Space Heaters – Place space heaters at least three feet (one meter) away from anything combustible, including wallpaper, bedding, clothing, pets and people. Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to bed. Don’t leave children or pets unattended with space heaters and be sure everyone knows the drying wet mittens or other clothes over space heaters is a fire danger.

Cook with Care – When cooking, do not wear loose fitting clothing, hot burners can ignite it. Always turn pot handles in. Don’t store items on the stovetop; they could catch fire. Keep kitchen appliances clean and in good condition, and turn them off after use. Don’t overload electrical outlets, and don’t use appliances with frayed or cracked wires.

Designate a Driver – When attending a party, always designate a non-drinking driver. If you are the host of a holiday gathering, be sure there are non-alcoholic beverages available for guests who are driving.

Buckle Up – During the holiday months, people travel more than ever. Wearing a seat belt is the easiest and best way to prevent injury in a motor vehicle collision. Ensure that all passengers are also wearing safety belts.

Purchase a Weather Radio – Stay informed about possible storm warnings by purchasing and listing to a NOAA Weather Radio.

Build a Disaster Resistant Neighborhood – Working with your neighbors implement disaster safety and preparedness into your neighborhood by becoming a Disaster Resistant Neighborhood. Make sure you have prepared a family emergency preparedness plan (for guidance contact the Arizona Division of Emergency Management at or call 1.800.411.2336).

For additional information on fire or burn prevention, contact your local fire department.

Return to List of Past Safety Tips  Disclaimer: Please refer to statement at top of Past Safety Tips list.