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As the holidays approach, many of us are rushing to set up decorations inside and outside of our houses, even if it means bracing the snow. While this is much easier said than done, there is a higher risk to be injured while decorating than homeowners think. Here are a few tips to stay safe while decorating your house for the holidays!

1. Dress warm!

 

While this first point may seem obvious, many of us find ourselves under-dressing for what the weather actually is. Simply throwing on a coat and boots sometimes isn’t enough, especially if high winds and snowfall is included in the already freezing temperature. Not only this but depending on how many decorations you have/the size of your house, you may be out there for hours at a time. There are many things that you could do to stay safe while out in the elements.

Make sure you are prepared with the following items:

  • Insulated winter coat
    • This one is relatively self-explanatory, but be sure to have a water-resistant and insulated winter coat. This will help to maintain your body heat and keep your clothes dry underneath. If your clothes underneath get wet, there is a far bigger chance that you’ll freeze much quicker.
  • High boots, if possible
    • This will help to avoid snow seeping into your boots and soaking your socks, increasing the risk of hypothermia.
  • A hat that is able to cover your ears
    • Not only is it uncomfortable when your ears are cold, but it can also be painful and even dangerous if they are uncovered in extreme temperatures for too long. Make sure to keep them dry and warm for as long as possible.
  • Earmuffs
    • This is only needed if you do not have a hat or if your hat does not cover your ears.
  • Gloves
    • Try to use insulated or non-woven gloves if possible. While knitted gloves are cute and comfortable for when you are outside more temporarily, they can get easily soaked from snow and the windchill will cut right through them.
  • Long Johns
    • Depending on how long you are outside, wearing long johns will make a huge difference in your comfort and warmth. Adding an extra layer to brace against the cold and maintain your body heat will go a long way.
  • Thermal socks
    • Your feet are one of the first parts of your body to lose heat, so make sure you wear thermal socks to retain as much heat as possible.
  • Neck guard
    • If your coat does not have a high enough collar to cover your neck, be sure to wear a neck guard to protect against the frigid weather and snow.
  • Hand/feet warmers (optional)
    • If you get cold very easily and need a little bit of extra warmth, these could be a great asset as you will stay warmer for much longer.

 

2. Have someone either help you outside or at least be home while you are decorating

It is recommended to find someone to help you decorate/be available while you decorate. If you happen to fall off of a ladder or slip on ice and injure yourself, the person helping you/waiting inside can help you. If the injury is especially bad, then they will be able to call you an ambulance. While someone driving or walking by may see you, it will most likely take longer and is not always guaranteed.

Stay safe by making sure to have the person waiting inside of the house check up on you periodically. This can be through the window (if you are in sight) or stepping outside quickly to make sure you are safe.

3. Be mindful of electrical outlets

Sometimes we might not even realize we still have snow caked on our gloves when we plug the cords into the outdoor outlet. This can be very dangerous, as it is a huge hazard when it comes to electrocution. Make sure to be safe and cautious when working with anything electrical outside, as the elements can be unpredictable.

Be sure to also avoid overloading the number of electrical outlets that you plugin. Keep in mind the number of outlets you have with respect to how many cords you intend to plugin. Be sure to also read the instructions on the packages of each electrical item you plan to put out in case there are any specific instructions of care/safety listed. There is a maximum number of strings that may be linked together with every string set.

Make sure to inspect each item carefully to make sure that there are no exposed wires, lights, or damaged bulbs. This will help to avoid fires or electrical shocks.

Only use electric lights outside if they are specifically meant for outdoor use; this also goes for extension cords.

Make sure to turn off all decorations before leaving the house or going to sleep for the night in case of circuit overheating.

Do not set up the cords in the way to be pinched by doors, windows, or heavy furniture. This could damage the cord’s insulation and potentially cause a fire.

For more information on how to stay safe while using electrical wiring and outlets, visit the link below!

https://earthsciences.typepad.com/files/holiday_decorating_safety.pdf

4. Do NOT use a metal ladder to put up lights

Metal ladders can conduct electricity, which can be very dangerous if something goes wrong when you plug in your lights.

If possible, use a wooden or fiberglass ladder to reduce the risk of electrical shock. Make sure to stay safe and inspect the ladder before using to check for loose bolts and stability.

If you have a second hand to help, having someone support the ladder could be a huge help to ensure safety while decorating high-up; this would be especially crucial in case it happens to be icy outside. Having a second person to keep watch, in this case, would be a huge help.

5. Try to avoid using open flames in your house

While real candles can make your house look cozy and warm, having numerous lit candles around your house can be unsafe and greatly increase the possibility of a fire occurring. Try to use battery-operated candles, as they are a safe alternative and can be easily turned off. They are also virtually harmless if accidentally knocked over.

If you do decide to use open-flamed candles around your house, be sure to keep them away from curtains, furniture, and out of the way of pets and children to avoid being knocked over. Also be mindful of where in the house you have the candles lit; it would be best to never let a lit candle go unattended.

6. Take care of your tree

If you are using a real tree this Christmas, be sure to set it up away from your fireplace or heaters. Real trees are highly flammable due to their sap and pine needles.

Be sure to also water your tree regularly to avoid it drying out. Dry trees are subject to catching fire much quicker, and can be unsafe under certain conditions. If possible, try to keep a fire extinguisher in the relative area of your tree in case it happens to catch fire to avoid the fire growing any further.

If you choose to use a fake tree this year, just be sure is it fire resistant; it will be much less likely that it will catch fire this way.

7. Take extra precaution with children and pets

When it comes to decorating inside, try to use non-breakable ornaments in case they happen to fall off of the tree or if your children reach for them. It might also be best to use very lightweight ornaments to avoid any injury if they do happen to fall.

Be sure to cover outlets as best as possible so that your pets do not chew the exposed cords, as this is a very common safety hazard. This can also help to avoid children pulling at or playing with electrical cords.

8. Be sure to inspect your fireplace and chimney

If you plan to hang stockings above the fireplace, just be sure that your fireplace is clean and inspected before you light a fire.

Too large of a flame could catch onto the stockings, so making sure the fire is tame and is frequently being tended to is very important in regards to your safety.

If you want to light a fire, take your stockings down first to avoid them catching fire.

Using these 8 safety tips while you decorate your house for the holidays, you will have a much larger chance of having fun, rather than getting injured. Happy decorating!

Be sure to visit our latest article: 10 Winter Activities in New York State that you can’t miss!

By: R. Kubek 12/16/19