10 tips to reduce common risks this holiday season

By Kathryn Dunmore, Canadian Red Cross

With the holidays just around the corner, it’s important for all of us to be mindful of household safety. Whether you’re stringing ornaments, decorating a tree, or lighting candles, it’s wise to be aware of accidents that are common this time of year.
A string of colourful lights lying on a floor
Photo credit: Thalia Ruiz, Unsplash

Every year people fall off ladders while hanging decorations, cut themselves while wrapping presents, and trip over electric cables or toys left on floors. There are instances of children or pets swallowing small ornaments, and even electrical shocks from holiday and Christmas tree lights. The list of hazards goes on and on.

With that in mind, we’ve put together 10 tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe and merry over the holidays.  

1. Check to make sure your smoke alarms work. It’s recommended to keep one in each bedroom, in the hallway outside the bedrooms and on each level of your home, including the basement.

2. Try to keep floor as clear as possible to reduce tripping hazards and ensure a clear evacuation route in an emergency.

3. Keep your tree away from high traffic areas and doorways.

4. Make sure nothing touches baseboard heaters. This includes toys, electrical wires, and curtains.

5. Don’t overload the electrical outlets and make sure that the wires or extension cords do not pass under a carpet or under a piece of furniture.

6. Make sure candles, matches and lighters are kept in a safe place out of the reach of children.

7. Choose a fresh and healthy Christmas tree. Ensure your tree is stable, doesn’t dry out, and the lights are certified for indoor use.

8. Place the tree away from heating vents, radiators, stoves, fireplaces and burning candles.

9. Keep metal, sharp or breakable tree ornaments with small removable parts away from young children.

10. Turn off all holiday lights and blow out any candles before you go to bed or leave your home.

Since the holidays carry an increased risk of house fires, here are some additional safety precautions to minimize risks for you and your family:
  • Ensure all smoke alarms have working batteries
  • Make an evacuation plan and practice it with family members
  • Have a kit; include these essentials in your kit and other necessities your family may need. You can also purchase an emergency kit from our online store
  • Be prepared with first aid training
Learn more about Canadian Red Cross first aid tips and resources.

Health Canada also has recommendations for holiday safety practices to minimize risk to you and your family this season, including toy safety guidelines and recycling programs for tree disposal.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

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