Tips to stay safe this holiday season Tips to stay safe this holiday season Tips to stay safe this holiday season Tips to stay safe this holiday season

With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s easy to let little things slip through the cracks. You forget to blow out a candle before heading to the Christmas pageant. You overload an outlet with too many holiday lights. You forget you just took that hot pan out of the oven and you end up with a nasty burn. Use these tips from the Federal Citizen Information Center to help you avoid some of the most common holiday accidents, so you’ll have a safe and fun holiday season.

Pick a safe Christmas tree. Christmas trees account for nearly 250 fires each year. If you’re buying a live tree, check it for freshness. Fresh trees will have needles that are hard to pull out and a trunk that is sticky with sap. Dry, brittle needles are more likely to catch fire. If you’re purchasing an artificial tree, select one that is fire resistant. Set up all trees far away from fireplaces or candles.

Check holiday lights for damaged wiring. Before you string up lights inside or outside of your house, inspect the strands for frayed wires, broken sockets or other loose connections. If you find damaged strands, throw them away. Make sure you turn off all your holiday lights whenever you leave your house or go to bed. Not only will that minimize the chance for fire, but it will save you money on your utility bill too.

Handle decorations carefully. Decorating your tree or other areas of your house for the holidays is a fun family activity. But glass ornaments can be dangerous for young children to handle. Make sure you give your kids durable ornaments to hang. That way if one slips out of their hands it won’t shatter and hurt or scare them. Hang non-breakable ornaments at the bottom of your tree–if your kids or pets knock them off, they’ll survive the fall.

Keep your pets safe. Holiday plants like poinsettia and mistletoe can be poisonous to animals, so if you have a dog or cat, make sure you display your plants in a high place so they won’t get eaten. Additionally, with all the extra food around the house, you or your guests might be tempted to slip your dog some table scraps, but traditional holiday foods might upset your pet’s stomach since they aren’t used to drastic changes in their diet. Keep your pets safe this holiday by offering them a treat specifically for pets.

Avoid burns. If you’re busy preparing a holiday meal and you have lots of people in and out of your kitchen, it’s easy to lose track of which pans are hot and what just came out of the oven. Keep track of warm pans by placing them all together on hot plates. If you’re cooking with lots of people in the kitchen, assign each person one dish to work on. That way they know which of their dishes are hot and need oven mitts for handling. If you do get a minor burn, run it under cool water, do not apply butter or other ointments.

For more tips on holiday safety, visit the Holiday Safety page. With these tips from the Federal Citizen Information Center, you’ll be able to avoid common holiday accidents and have fun celebrating.

The Federal Citizen Information Center connects people with government benefits, services and information through its family of websites, including,, and; by phone at 1 (800) FED-INFO (that’s 1 (800) 333-4636) and with publications by mail from Pueblo, Colorado. FCIC is part of the U.S. General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services.

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