TODDLER HOLIDAY HAZARD: O, Tannenbaum
Fire and tree toppling. Each holiday season, fires claim the lives of 400 people, injure more than 1,650 and cause nearly $1 billion in damage. It takes only three to five seconds for a tree to become fully engulfed in flames. (The U.S. Fire Administration web site even features a disquieting video demonstrating how this happens. Click here.)
Dry and old trees, overloaded light/ornament circuits or proximity to a heat source (like a space heater or an electrical outlet) are usually to blame. Other toddler hazards include unsecured trees that can be pulled down by kids or pets, and too-low branches with needles that can poke little eyes and scratch little faces. “What’s knee level to us is eye level to a toddler,” reminds Hopkins.
PREVENT AN ACCIDENT:
• When you’re choosing a tree, make sure the needles are green and hard to pull from branches. Needles won’t break if the tree has been freshly cut; if needles fall off easily, the tree has probably dried out already.
• Don’t leave your tree up for more than two weeks and keep the stand filled with water at all times. Never place the tree near a heat source.
• Inspect holiday lights for frayed wires, gaps in the insulation and broken or cracked sockets before draping on the tree. After installing, periodically check the wires to make sure they’re not warm to the touch. In addition, make sure your lights have the UL seal of approval (an Underwriters Laboratories seal means lights have been safety-tested for sparking). A final word on lights: Never use “indoor” lights outside your home. They’re not weather-resistant, so moisture could corrode the socket and wiring, increasing fire risk.
• Secure the tree in a stand that’s sturdy enough to prevent tipping. Then trim or cut off lower branches to protect toddler’s faces.
• Never put branches in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree is dry, toss—or recycle—immediately.
NEXT HOLIDY HAZARD: ORNAMENTS