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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Avoiding fall, winter and holiday decorating hazards

STILLWATER, Okla. – With the arrival of fall, winter and a parade of major celebrations and holidays over the next few weeks, lots of families will get into the spirit by adding festive decorations.

As would-be decorators add their special touches to fall and winter as well as the annual Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, it is important they keep some basic safety precautions in mind, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.

When scouting the perfect location to showcase seasonal decorations, both inside and outside the house, choose spaces well away from foot traffic and doorways to reduce the chances of them tipping over, blowing away or possibly tripping someone.

“While decorations such as dried flowers, cornstalks or crepe paper can easily catch fire, all decorations should be located away from open flames, fireplaces, vents, radiators and other heat sources to reduce the fire risk,” Peek said.

Large trees and other sizable pieces of holiday décor that could tip over can be anchored to the walls or the ceiling with thin guy-wire, which is almost invisible.

“If you have young children at home, watch out for sharp, weighted or breakable decorations, as well as ones with small pieces or that look like candy or food,” Peek said.

Lots of families also enjoy celebrating by stringing lights around the home. Before hanging any lights, check the label to ensure they have been tested by a nationally recognized laboratory such as UL.

Only use indoor lights inside the house and outdoor lights outside the home.

Each set of lights should be inspected for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Any damaged strands should be repaired or thrown away.

“Since light strands could contain lead, which could be ingested from hand-to-mouth contact or released into the air as they are being hung or taken down, children especially should avoid touching lights,” Peek said. “Anyone who comes in contact with them should wash their hands immediately after they finish.”

Extension cords also should be checked to make sure they work properly before being pressed into service.

While candles can add flair to any seasonal decorations, families should consider using flameless ones, when possible. However, when burning real candles, keep them on stable, heat-resistant surfaces out of the reach of pets and kids, as well as away from décor that could easily ignite such as other decorations, curtains and furniture.

“If you like placing burning candles inside decorations such as jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween, make sure they’re located away from landings, doorsteps and areas where someone could come in contact with the flame,” Peek said. “Extinguish candles before going to bed or leaving the house or an unoccupied room.”

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REPORTER/MEDIA CONTACT:

Leilana McKindra
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
158 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-6792
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: leilana.mckindra@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000