The holidays should be merry and bright, but this time of year also requires additional precautions around the home. By avoiding such hazards as dried out Christmas trees, unsafe lights and unattended burning candles, holiday-related injuries can be prevented. Keep the following holiday safety tips in mind when decorating and entertaining in your home.


  1. If your holiday decor or entertaining will put extra load on your electrical system, make sure it's up to the task. Older homes or homes with existing electrical issues may need an upgraded panel to handle holiday demands. Here's more about this potential safety issue from Mr. Electric, a Neighborly company.


  1. Check all holiday lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw out damaged sets. Always replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same type and wattage bulbs. Using the wrong bulbs can cause overheating.


  1. In homes with small children, avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable or resemble candy or food. Keep decorations with small removable parts out of the reach of children.


  1. Before preparing holiday meals, test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they are working. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand and know how to use it. Make sure your appliances are working properly, including cooking food to the right temperature. See more holiday cooking tips at


  1. Any lights used outside should be certified for outdoor use. Use only insulated staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks, or rest the light strings on plastic hooks. Outdoor electric lights should be plugged into circuits protected by ground-fault circuit-interrupters (GFCIs). GFCIs have been installed on exterior circuits in new homes since the 1970s and can be added as a safety retrofit in older homes.


  1. If decorating with a live tree, choose one that is green and fragrant and holds its needles. Keep the stand full of water, and keep the tree away from fireplaces and open flames. See more live tree and holiday safety tips from Rainbow International, a Neighborly company.


  1. Take special care with lighted candles. Use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked over or ignite curtains or other flammable objects. Always keep lighted candles away from small children and teach older children fire safety.


  1. When entertaining for the holidays, clear sidewalks and entryways of snow, ice and tripping hazards, including frayed rugs and kids’ toys. Provide a way for guests to dry off wet shoes, and remove obstacles in public areas of your home that may be tripping hazards. Always keep emergency numbers handy in case of an accident.


  1. Look for the label "Fire Resistant" when buying an artificial tree. While this label does not mean the tree won't catch fire, it does signify the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly. Remember, never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.


  1. When hanging lights or decorating high places, follow general ladder safety guidelines including wearing non-slip shoes, adhering to extension ladder slope and height requirements, and not decorating near power lines. Here are more tips from WindowGenie, a Neighborly company.


  1. Don’t burn gift wrapping items in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely. Make sure your fireplace is clean and free of debris and blockage. All fireplaces and chimneys should be inspected once a year.


  1. Have safe holidays and a very Merry Christmas!