Create a holly, jolly environment with safety in mind

Make your homes merry and bright using the following tips as a guide for safe decorating.

Trees and decorations

  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, its needles are hard to pull from branches, and its needles do not break when bent between your fingers. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, vents and radiators. Because heated rooms rapidly dry out live trees, be sure to monitor water levels and keep the tree stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of traffic, and do not block doorways.
  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label, “Fire Resistant.” Although this label does not mean that the tree will not catch fire, it does indicate that the tree is more resistant to catching fire
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children who could swallow or inhale small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.


  • Indoors or outdoors, only use lights that have been tested for safety by a nationally-recognized testing laboratory
  • Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw out damaged sets. Don’t use electric lights on a metallic tree
  • If using an extension cord, make sure it is rated for the intended use
  • When using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure that the lights have been certified for outdoor use, and only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter protected receptacle or a portable GFCI


  • Keep burning candles within sight. Always extinguish all candles before you go to bed, leave the room, or leave the house
  • Keep candles on a stable heat-resistant surface where kids and pets cannot reach them or knock them over. Lighted candles should be away from items that can catch fire and burn easily, such as trees, other evergreens, decorations, curtains, and furniture.

Source: Consumer Product Safety  Commission. For more information,