Consumer Tips for Decking the Halls

LITTLE ROCK – As Arkansans make their homes warm and inviting for the holidays by stringing lights on rooftops and lighting festive candles, they should make safety a priority to avoid mishaps and possible injuries.
To help Arkansas consumers decorate safely and without injury, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this Consumer Alert today.
“I want to make sure Arkansas families have a safe and injury-free holiday season so that they can focus on family and friends during this special time of year,” McDaniel said. “Taking a few safety precautions will keep your loved ones and property safe during the holidays.”
Annually, during November and December, more than 14,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms due to injuries related to holiday decorating, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Many of those injuries are related to falls while hanging decorations, lacerations from ornaments, strained backs or burns from open-flame candles. McDaniel offered these safety tips:
  • Make sure artificial trees are labeled as “fire resistant.”
  • When selecting a live tree, look for one that is green and fresh. Needles from fresh trees do not break when bent between your fingers and are difficult to pull from the branches. The trunk end of the tree should be 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.
  • Keep live trees away from fireplaces, radiators and heaters that can dry trees out more quickly.
  • Fill the tree stand with water, check the level frequently and add water when needed.
  • Select lights that carry labels indicating they have been safety tested by independent laboratories.
  • Check each set of lights. Look for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Discard or repair, if necessary, before use.
  • Be sure to securely fasten outdoor lights to your home, trees or walls to protect against damaging winds.
  • Only use insulated staples or hooks to affix lights. Never use nails or tacks.
  • Do not use more than three standard-size sets of lights per extension cord, and ensure that each extension cord is rated for the intended use.
  • Always turn off or unplug lights when you go to bed or leave your home.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree.
  • Use only flame-resistant materials to trim a tree.
  • Keep decorations with small, removable parts that could be choking hazards out of the reach of children.
  • When small children may be present, take care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, and those that resemble candy or food and might tempt a child to eat them.
Candles and fireplaces
  • Never leave candles unattended. Put out candles before going to bed, leaving the room, or leaving the house.
  • Keep candles on a stable surface where they cannot be knocked over.
  • Keep candles away from items that can burn easily, like trees, decorations, curtains and furniture.
  • Never throw giftwrap into a fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
  • Do not burn evergreens in the fireplace because they have a tendency to flare when dry and produce flames that are difficult to control.
For more information on holiday safety or other consumer-related issues, or call the Consumer Protection Division’s hotline at (800) 482-8982.
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