Holiday Safety 101

  • Published
  • By Beverly Joyner
  • 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

When people are busy decorating, shopping, entertaining or traveling during the holiday season, the rush to complete their to-do lists could lead to a lack of emphasis on proper safety practices.

The following holiday safety tips can help all  keep safe and secure during the season.

Decorations and gift wrap

  • Decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and should never be placed near heating vents or fireplaces.
  • Sharp or breakable glass ornaments can be a risk for children and must be kept out of their reach.
  • Before using electric lights check for frayed wires, broken or cracked sockets and excessive wear.
  • Do not dispose of gift wrapping paper in the fireplace since chemicals can build up and cause an explosion.
  • Decorative ribbon should be kept away from small children; any piece seven inches or longer could wrap around a child’s neck and cause injuries.

Christmas tree safety

  • When selecting live Christmas trees the needles should be fresh, green and hard to pull off the branches.
  • Placing the tree near a heat source such as a fireplace or vent can cause it to dry out more quickly and pose a fire hazard.
  • Use a large, sturdy tree stand so children can’t pull the tree down. Keep the stand filled with water at all times, and cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption.
  • Artificial Christmas trees should be labeled as fire resistant. If the tree is purchased with lights already attached, look for the Underwriters Laboratory label, which means that it has been tested for safety.
  • Never use lighted candles on or near trees; use indoor lights, not outdoor lights, to decorate your tree. Do not use light strands on aluminum trees.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets or leave electric lights unattended. Use only lighting certified by the Underwriters Laboratory.

Toy shopping

To promote toy safety and smart purchasing practices during the holiday season, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in conjunction with the Retail Industry Leaders Association, Safe Kids Worldwide and Toy Association offers the following tips for shoppers.

  • Check the labels and follow age guidance and other safety information on toy packaging.
  • Avoid toys with small parts such as magnets, marbles and small balls.
  • Choose toys that match your child’s interests and abilities as well as your family’s play environment.
  • Purchase safety gear for scooters and other riding toys. Ensure that children’s helmets are sized to fit and are worn properly at all times.
  • Know your seller and purchase toys only from retailers that you know and trust; research to find out which toys have been recalled.

Traveling during colder months

  • Before getting on the road for holiday road trips, prepare your vehicle for the season by getting a winter tune-up, adding antifreeze and switching to winter weight oil.
  • Check the National Weather Service forecast for travel advisories and be prepared to postpone your trip during inclement weather.
  • Keep your gas tank over half full and carry emergency supplies including a cell phone, food and water, flashlight, first-aid kit, blankets, a shovel, flares, sand and tire chains.
  • Let someone know your destination and when you are expected to arrive. Ask them to notify authorities if you are late.
  • Do not drive if you are tired or have been drinking.
  • If you are stranded on the road during a winter storm and the roadways are impassable, the safest choice is to stay in your vehicle.

While celebrating the holidays with family, be sure to use risk management planning to make sound decisions and help reduce safety-related hazards.

For more information about holiday safety, visit