The holidays are upon us which means many offices decorate their workspace: stringing the lights, finding the perfect Christmas tree, and hanging the decorations. Did you know that from December 15 to December 31 – the height of the holiday season – the number of fires, deaths, injuries, and property losses are significantly higher than the rest of the year? Experts say that, on average, Christmas-time incidents increase by the following amounts:
• Fires increase by 18%
• Fire-related deaths increase by 25%
• Fire-related injuries increase by 24%
• Property losses increase by 7%
Many home and office fire incidents during this time of year can be the result of holiday activities like cooking, decorating, social gatherings, burning candles, and consuming alcohol and cigarettes (maybe at holiday parties). When these increased activities are coupled with our daily busy schedules, visitors, and the many other distractions that occur in most offices, we pay less attention to fire hazards and, as a result, increase the risk of fire. To make your holiday season a little safer, here are a few safety precautions. Following these safety tips will help ensure a happy and safe holiday season for you and your co-workers:
Christmastime Safety tips
The careful decoration and maintenance of your Christmas tree can go a long way in making your holiday season safe and enjoyable.
• Before purchasing your tree check for freshness, do not purchase a tree that is dry or dropping needles. Few needles should fall when the tree is tapped on the ground. Needles should not bend or break and the trunk should be sticky to the touch with resin.
• Families should cut 2 to 4 centimeters off the bottom of the trunk on the diagonal placing the tree in water as soon as possible once getting it home. Place your tree in a sturdy tree stand designed not to tip over.
• Many trees have been dormant for a couple months, it’s typical for them to absorb most of their water within six to eight hours after being brought into a warm home. Trees that are kept fresh during the holiday season are much more difficult to ignite, which is why it is critical for consumers to commit to the care of their Christmas tree. If the water level falls below the cut surface for more than four to six hours, the tree’s ability to keep absorbing moisture is inhibited. Try to keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water daily.
• Make sure the tree is at least three feet (one meter) away from any heat source, such as fireplaces and radiators. Try to position the tree near an outlet so that cords are not running long distances. Do not place the tree where it may block exits.
• When decorating your tree, always use lights listed by a testing laboratory. Some lights are designed only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. Larger tree lights should also have some type of reflector rather than a bare bulb.
• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use tree lights. Any string of lights with worn, frayed, or broken cords or loose bulb connections should not be used. Connect no more than three strands of push‐in bulbs and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw‐in bulbs.
• Always unplug Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
• Never use lit candles to decorate a tree, and make sure any lit candles in the room are placed well away from tree branches.
• Regularly check your tree for fresh, green needles. Trees that have dried out over several weeks burn faster than fresh, well‐watered trees. Remember to keep your tree watered at all times.
• Safely dispose of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried‐out trees are highly flammable and should not be left in a house or garage, or placed against the house.
• Children are fascinated with Christmas trees. Keep a watchful eye on them when around the tree and do not let them play with the wiring or lights. Store matches and lighters up high, out of reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.
• Always keep candles, as well as matches and lighters, out of the reach of children, and don’t leave children unattended in a room with lit candles.
• If you purchase an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire‐retardant.
• Look for the holographic UL Mark on light strings and electrical decorations. The UL Mark means that UL engineers have tested samples of the product for safety hazards.
Green holographic UL Mark = Indoor‐only use
Red holographic UL Mark = Indoor and outdoor use
• Carefully inspect each electrical decoration ‐ new or old ‐ before plugging it in. Cracked sockets, frayed, bare or loose wires can cause a serious electric shock or start a fire. Replace damaged items with new, UL‐Listed decorations.
• Take down holiday lights after 90 days of use to prevent damage from weather conditions and neighborhood animals and to extend their life.
Have a safe and wonderful Merry Christmas.
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