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12 Ways to Keep Your Home Safe When Decorating for the Holidays

Between Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, many of us do a lot of decorating, both indoors and out. According to the National Fire Prevention Agency (NFPA), "In 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 840 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees." Use these tips to ensure that you keep your home (and the people and pets inside of it!) safe this holiday season.

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Flame itakdalee/Shutterstock

Be Smart With an Open Flame

Although this seems obvious, the U.S. Fire Administration notes that candles start two out of five home decoration structure fires and that the top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Years Day, and Christmas Eve. Although you may love to burn candles during the holidays, remember to blow them out when you leave the house and keep them far from your decor. Or, switch from real candles to flameless. Some of these safer candles look surprisingly realistic and come with a remote control!

Here are more important tips for preventing home fires.

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Christmas Renat Murtaev/Shutterstock

Take Care of Your Tree

A real Christmas tree are smells and looks great, but it requires considerable care. Keep it hydrated, away from heat, and be sure that the lights you hang on it are in good condition. And if your Christmas tree starts to die, here’s how to fix it!

Here’s a collection of must-see handy tips and hacks for Christmas trees.

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SnowAna Muraca/Shutterstock

Skip the Faux Snow

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that fake snow that comes in cans can irritate lungs. (This can be particularly dangerous if you have family members with asthma). There are so many other decorating options, just skip the fake snow.

If it’s real snow that’s your problem, check out these 10 great snow and ice removal hacks.

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Teamwork Helps with Heights

Before you scale a ladder to hang lights, indoors or out, get someone to spot you. The last thing you want to do is end up in the ER during the holidays. And whatever you do, never ever use your ladder like this!

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Limit Extension Cords

You’ll likely be using extension cords during the holidays, so be careful. Not only can all these extra plug-ins cause electrical overloads, those extension cords can also create tripping hazards around your house. Here’s everything you’ll ever need to know about preventing electrical overloads.

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Stocking Ozgur Coskun/Shutterstock

Consider Hanging Your Stocking Somewhere Other Than the Mantel

It’s a time honored tradition to hang your stockings by the chimney, but if you’re going to have a fire in the fireplace, consider flame-retardant stockings or another location. Also, make sure there aren’t highly flammable or meltable things in the stockings. And, always keep wrapping paper away from the fireplace. Check out our collection of DIY gift wrapping hacks.

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applesKristi Blokhin/Shutterstock

Say No to Fake Food

These apples are fake. Small children, pets and even adults may not notice the difference between decorative apples, gingerbread men or ribbon candy and the real thing. If your favorite decoration is adorned with fake food, be sure to place it up high to avoid a mishap.

Have a baby visiting this holiday season? Here are some other tips to ensure their safety.

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KidsTatiana Chekryzhova/Shutterstock

Keep Small Pieces Away from Kids and Pets

Many holiday decorations have small pieces that can easily fall off or be pulled off. If there are toddlers and/or pets in your house, be diligent about keeping anything with small pieces up out of their reach and monitor the floor for little items that could be ingested or cause choking.

Looking for some excellent gift ideas for those kids? Check out this fun collection.

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Handling Broken Glass

Glass ornaments are beautiful and many of us have a collection that includes some heirlooms. However, no matter how careful you are, ornaments do fall off of the tree and break. It’s important to clean up all of the tiny shards of glass, especially if there are children and/or pets in the house. Here is the smartest way to handle and dispose of broken glass.

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match kaprik/Shutterstock

Make a Safety Plan

You should have a safety plan for your family all year long, but if you don’t, the holidays are the time to put one in place. Where will you meet up if you leave the house due to a fire or other emergency? What are the quickest ways out of each room if there is a fire? Does everyone know where the fire extinguishes are located? Here are many more helpful tips for handling home emergencies.

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decorateIevgenii Meyer/Shutterstock

Be Aware of your “New” Space

If you’re an avid decorator, family and friends may get distracted by looking at your holiday extravaganza. Make sure everyone is aware of lit candles, the location of extension cords, etc. so everyone stays safe!

Have a broken extension cord? Here’s how to repair it safely.

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Julia K. Porter
Dr. Julia Porter has worked in Higher Education since 2008, following a career as a High School teacher in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a PhD in Global Leadership from Indiana Tech, an MA in English Literature from Brooklyn College, and a BS in English Education from Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI). She lives in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and rambunctious Australian Shepherd.