The Routt County Office of Emergency Management offers the following safety tips to minimize the risk of fire and injuries during the holidays:
■ Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
■ Use nonflammable holders.
■ Keep candles away from decorations and wrapping paper.
■ Keep matches, lighters and candles out of the reach of children.
■ Use only noncombustible or flame-resistant materials.
■ Wear gloves while decorating with spun glass “angel hair” to avoid irritation to eyes and skin.
■ Choose tinsel or artificial icicles or plastic or nonleaded metals.
■ In homes with small children, avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food.
■ When making paper decorations, look for materials labeled noncombustible or flame-resistant.
■ Never place trimming near open flames or electrical connections.
■ Remove all wrapping papers from tree and fireplace areas immediately after presents are opened.
■ Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
■ Keep a screen before the fireplace while a fire is burning.
■ Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation or vomiting if eaten.
■ Do not burn wrapping paper in the fireplace.
■ Make an emergency plan to use if a fire breaks out anywhere in the home, and practice the plan.
■ Make sure artificial trees are fire resistant.
■ Check the freshness of a real tree. A fresh tree is green, fresh needles are hard to pull from branches and do not break and the trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin. When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles indicates the tree is too dry.
■ Place the tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Heated rooms dry out trees rapidly, creating fire hazards.
■ Cut off about 2 inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption. Trim away branches as necessary to set tree trunk in the base of a sturdy, water-holding stand. Keep the stand filled with water while the tree is indoors.
■ Only use lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the label from an independent testing laboratory.
■ Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Discard damaged sets or repair them before using.
■ Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house, walls or other firm support to protect from wind damage.
■ Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
■ Turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Lights could short and start a fire.
■ Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and any person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
Families with children
■ Keep holiday plants away from children and pets. Mistletoe, holly berries and Christmas cactus are poisonous if swallowed.
■ If you place your child in a shopping cart, always use the safety belt and never let your child stand in or push a shopping cart.
■ Do not give children younger than 3 toys that contain small or metal parts or toys that break easily. An easy gauge is using an empty toilet paper roll. If a toy can fit through the roll, it is too small for the child.
■ Include helmets and other protective gear when giving bicycles, skates or skateboards.
■ Keep candles to a minimum or don’t light them. Consider using electric candles instead. If you do light candles, make sure they are out of reach of children.
■ Don’t leave small children unattended with a Christmas tree and keep all cords and ornaments out of reach.
■ Make sure that the Christmas tree is anchored to the wall or ceiling so that a small child can’t tip it over. Don’t place wrapped presents under the tree where your baby can reach them because the wrapping paper and bows can be a choking hazard.
■ Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
■ Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed.
One last tip: Most home burglaries happen during the holidays, so keep doors and windows locked and blinds drawn when you go to bed or leave the house.