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Keep the family safe this Christmas

By Staff | Dec 24, 2010

Christmas is just around the corner. Each year Christmas is celebrated in homes across America. Trees and decorations are put up. Holiday decorations – like candles, lights and Christmas trees bulbs – add a joyous and festive mood to the holiday.

But over the years several fires and electrical failures have been caused by tree decorations.

Fire Safety

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), each year, hospital emergency rooms treat about 12,500 people for falls, cuts, shocks and burns due to incidents involving faulty holiday lights, dried-out Christmas trees and other holiday decorations.

CPSC also reports that Christmas candles are another cause of concern. There are more than 13,000 candle-related fires each year.

According to the Chief of the Shepherdstown Fire Department Ross Morgan, there were 12 reported Christmas tree fires in Jefferson County in 2009.

In a telephone interview, Morgan said that Christmas trees and candles need to be handled properly.

“If you buy a cut tree for Christmas, check for freshness. Brittle pines are signs of a dry tree. Keep your tree fresh. Keep the tree away from the fireplace,” he said.

Morgan also believes that candles need to be handled carefully and placed away from anything that would catch fire.

“If possible, place the candles in glass globes,” he said.

Following a few simple safety tips can help prevent holiday decoration-related fires.

“Never put electric cords under rugs. All ways use UL-marked cords and tree lights. Check the fire detectors and make sure they are working. When leaving the house always make sure the decorations are unplugged and the all candles are out,” Morgan said.

Toy Safety

In a 2009 speech in London, economist Joes Waldfogel said that over $65 billion was spent on Christmas gifts in America.

According to the CPSC, “not much thought is given in how safe gifts are especially for children until we hear of a toy safety-related accident that might have been prevented.”

The U.S. CPSC reports 150,000 accidents every year. Electric toys that are improperly constructed, wired or misused can shock or burn, according to the report.

Another problem with toys is tiny parts such as glass eyes, buttons and small beads that can be swallowed by the child causing death or if partly blocking the airway can cause brain damage, according to the report.

U.S. CPSC has put out eight suggestions for toy safety in the home at their website by visiting www.cpsc.gov.

Road Safety

The road to grandma’s house may be crowded this year. A lot of families travel at Christmastime as it is one of the most traveled holidays of the year, according to AAA.

“Roughly 1.18 million Virginians and West Virginians are expected to clog the roads for trips of 50 miles or more this week,” according to AAA.

AAA East Central President Wayne Northey said in a telephone interview, “One of the safety issues not talked about much but we are noticing is tire pressure. More people are reporting that the pressures in the tires are low.”

Northey attributed this to extremely cold weather.

“Low pressure in the tires can cause skidding and cause you to use more gas than you normally would,” he said.

Northey also said that the reports of fender benders and cars sliding into ditches are up compared to last year. Northey had a word of warning to those traveling by cars this Christmas.

“Take your time. Leave early. Stop and rest more often, and follow the speed limits or go slightly below the speed limits,” he said. “The roads are icier this year than in other years. If you speed, it is much easier to loose control of your car.”

For more information about tips for safe driving visit its website at www.AAA.com.