Cool it when it comes to Christmas Trees

Submitted by Pat Gifford, Trauma Outreach and Prevention Coordinator, Hamot

The following information comes from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Here are some facts you need to know:

  • Make sure your tree is at least 3 feet away from a heat source such as a fireplace, candles or a radiator.
  • This causes about ¼ of the Christmas tree fires.
  • Check your lights to be sure that they have a tag listing them by a testing laboratory.
  • Do not use lights with frayed, worn or broken cords.
  • Larger tree lights are safer with reflectors rather than a bare bulb.
  • Read the directions on the Christmas lights directions to see how many strings you can connect together.
  • Do not overload your outlets. That is a sure way to have a fire.
  • It is an unsafe idea to use outdoor lights inside and indoor lights outside.
  • Remember to wash your hands when you use older lights and do not let children handle them as many are coated with lead.
  • Never use electric lights on a metal tree.
  • Water your Christmas tree daily and do not buy a live tree that is already dropping its needles.
  • Purchase a sturdy tree stand that will not tip over.
  • If you are buying an artificial tree be sure it is labeled as fire retardant.
  • Store matches and lighters away from children.
  • Put small decorations at the top of the tree and out of reach of small children.

Under the Tree: Tips from the CDC
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

  • Do not let children around the Christmas tree without an adult watching over them.
  • Throw away any ribbons or broken bulbs as they can be very dangerous to small children.
  • DO NOT BUY anything with small magnets. A child or pet could die or be very sick if they swallowed them.
  • Always choose toys according to the age. Even if you think that your child is smart enough for an older toy, the toy is designed with safety measures according to their growth and development. So follow what is
  • safe for each age group.
  • If you buy sports gear or riding toys make sure you include the safety gear that goes with it like helmets, knee and elbow protectors etc.
  • Location: Make sure that your child has a safe play area that is free from the following:
    • Traffic
    • Older children’s toys
    • Kitchen and bathroom hazards
    • Water: tubs, pools, ponds
  • Small balls/toys- Keep these away from children under three as they may put these in their mouths and choke.
  • Throw away all plastic wrappings, ribbons, or anything sharp as these are dangerous for children and they may choke or suffocate.
  • Finally watch your child as they play to be sure they are using the toy as it was meant to be used. Even the safest toy can be dangerous if used in the wrong way.

The Staff and Hamot Shock Trauma wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday.