The Twelve Days of Safety

On the first day of Christmas, there was a sight to see, a four-alarm that engulfed our Christmas tree. The holidays are a joyful time to spend with family and friends, but a careless mistake could put a real damper on your festivities. Every year, an average of almost 300,000 adults sustain injuries during the holiday season! (1) Make it your aim to avoid becoming a statistic—stay safe this season and all year long, starting with these twelve days of safety tips.

Never leave a burning candle unattended

On the first day of safety, we remind you to extinguish any lit candles when you leave the room, your house, or go to sleep. According to an NFPA study, candles start more than one-third of all home decoration structure fires, and most of those fires occur in December. (2)

Turn off tree lights, decorations, and portable space heaters when away or asleep

Did you know that there are more than 25,000 residential fires a year caused by space heaters and more than 200 caused by tree lights and decorations? On the second day of safety, we remind you that in order to avoid these tragedies, be sure to unplug all of your lights, decorations, and portable space heaters when not in the same room. (3)

Never throw wrapping paper in the fire

On the third day of safety, we remind you of three reasons why you should never burn wrapping paper: (4)

  1. Traveling embers. Paper burned in the fireplace may release small pieces which can land on a rug or carpet, setting it on fire. These smoldering fragments could even float up the chimney and out onto your roof or lawn.
  2. Flame height. Flames from burning paper tend to burn higher than wood flames. They could reach combustible material in your fireplace, causing a chimney fire.
  3. Toxic fumes. When ignited, paper with colored print or glitter can release harmful gases.

Only use outdoor and indoor lights as indicated on their packaging

On the fourth day of safety, we remind you to always use lights certified by an approved testing facility, such as UL or ETL. Outdoor-use lights are specifically made to operate safely in cold and wet environments, while indoor-use lights are tested to ensure they won’t cause a tree fire. (5)

Don’t overload circuits, extension cords, or electrical sockets

On the fifth day of safety, we remind you that overloading circuits, extension cords, or electrical sockets could cause a fire. Space out your decorations so they’re not drawing electricity from one outlet. Never plug multiple extension cords together and always use polarized or three-prong cords rated to handle the electrical current your devices need. (6)

Never leave cooking or baking unattended

Most people don’t realize that cooking fires are the number-one cause of home fires and that, as reported by the NFPA, unattended cooking equipment is a factor in one-third of reported home cooking fires and half of the associated deaths. (7) On the sixth day of safety, we remind you to be especially careful when you’re using the stove or cooktop and while frying foods. Always stay in the kitchen—even if you’re baking or roasting—and set a timer to remind yourself to check on cooking food.

Poinsettias and mistletoe are poisonous, so be sure to keep them away from children and pets

On the seventh day of safety, we remind you that although poinsettias are unlikely to cause serious problems if touched or ingested in small amounts, they could still cause an itchy rash or intestinal upset. However, other holiday plants are highly toxic, such as mistletoe, holly, or amaryllis. Keep them all out of reach from children and pets. (8)

Check your smoke detector battery

On the eighth day of safety, we remind you that smoke detectors should be tested regularly and the batteries replaced at least once or twice a year. Mark your calendar to check your alarm during the holidays. A working smoke alarm cuts your risk of home fire death in half. (9)

Don't drink and drive

Holiday get-togethers are fun, but only when you keep safety a priority. The statistics are sobering: every year hundreds of people die in drunk driving accidents during the holiday season. (10) On the ninth day of safety, we remind you that if you plan to drink alcohol, make sure you have a designated driver to get you and your loved ones home safe and sound. Or, use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s SaferRide app—available from Google Play or the iTunes store—to call a taxi or a friend.

Choose a fire-resistant artificial tree and be sure to water a natural tree daily

On average, 230 house fires are caused by Christmas trees each year. To prevent this from happening to you, we remind you on the tenth day of safety to exercise caution when placing, decorating, and maintaining either kind of tree. Position your tree at least three feet away from a heat source and remember to keep natural trees hydrated. (11)

Maintain woodburning fireplaces and chimneys

Nothing is cozier than relaxing by the fire, but it’s especially important to keep your woodburning fireplace clean because creosote—a flammable smoke residue and serious fire hazard—can build up inside. Use the holiday season, like the eleventh day of safety, as a reminder to clean your fireplaces, flues, and chimneys before using them. (12)

Don’t share holiday plans or vacations on social media

Social media is a great way to share what you and your family are doing for the holidays. However, if you are leaving your home for an extended period of time, we remind you on the twelfth day of safety not to put your plans or pictures on social media until after you return. You could be unintentionally inviting thieves to break into your house while you’re away. (13)

From your entire MSA family, we wish you a wonderful, warm, and safe holiday. To make it even safer, or to impress your friends and extended family with your safety tips, download and share our “12 Days of Safety” infographic. Again, Happy Holidays from all of us at MSA!


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