How to Keep Loved Ones Safe This Holiday Season

The holiday season is supposed to be a time for relaxing and celebrating with friends and family. The most wonderful time of year can also prove harmful to your health and safety. Christmas trees, candles, holiday decorations, and even the holiday dinner can be threats to your health if you’re not careful. Here’s some safety tips to keep your family safe this holiday season.

Watch Out for Fire Starters 

The increase in combustible seasonal decorations in many homes during the holidays means more risk for fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles, and two of every five decoration fires happen because the decorations are placed too close to a heat source. Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over and out of reach of children. Don’t burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace. Never leave candles or fireplaces burning unattended or when you are asleep. Make sure the Christmas tree is not covering heat vents, blocking walkways or near flammable items. 

Also, test your smoke alarms to make sure they’re working properly. Keep a fire extinguisher handy for even more security.  

Click here for more holiday fire safety tips from the American Red Cross. They also offer 10 ways to stay safe as you deck the halls this holiday season. 

Decorate Safely 

Decorating is one of the most exciting activities to get into the holiday spirit. However, thousands of injuries involving holiday decorating are seen in emergency rooms every year. 

When decorating follow these tips from the American Red Cross: 

  • Check all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t worn out or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together—no more than three per extension cord. 
  • If you are buying an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat. 
  • Place the Menorah on a solid surface away from flammable materials and out of the reach of children. 
  • If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh, and water it to keep it fresh. 
  • When using older decorations, check their labels. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow. 
  • When decorating outside, make sure decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. Always use insulated hooks and nails outside to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard. 
  • While using a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that allow for good traction and always watch for ice and packed snow. 
  • Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees. 
  • Don’t forget to turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house. 
  • Keep children, pets and decorations away from candles. 
  • If hanging stockings on the fireplace mantel, don’t light the fireplace.

Be Prepared for Travel 

Traveling during the holidays can be taxing, especially in snowstorms and icy conditions. By getting your car ready for winter and using some simple tips to drive safely, you can face almost any weather that comes your way. Make sure your battery is good to go before you hit the road—battery power drops as the temperature drops. Have winter tires with a deeper, more flexible tread put on your car. Check the tire pressure—the tire pressure also drops as the temperature drops.  

Winter conditions or not, be sure to keep an emergency supply kit handy and fully stoked too. A spare tire, jumper cables, and a first aid kit are just a few items you should have on hand. Click here for more on what to include in an emergency supply kit.

Hazards for Kids and Pets 

During the holiday season kids and pets can get overly excited and with the additional excitement comes additional running and playing. From having additional presents and sweets to a spinning dreidel, new and exciting things can cause danger for young children and pets, click here for additional Hannukah safety. 


Visit Know A Vet? for a list of resources for a wide range of issues and resources by zip code. Your local VSO can help connect you to other veteran or civilian organizations. To find your local VSO visit Know A Vet? and put your zip code in the box toward the top of the home page for your local Federal, State and County resources.  

Watch for future articles from Know A Vet? that will discuss how deal with after holiday blues. 

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