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Ho, Ho, Ho – the Holiday season is here again – a time of celebration and gatherings.  However, it is always best to pay attention to safety issues so that nothing spoils the occasion.  Here are three suggestions to bear in mind to help keep you and family safe and secure:

1)   Trees and Decorations

When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean the tree won’t catch fire but it does mean that the tree will resist burning and should be able to be extinguished quickly.

When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.

When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, it is safer to keep the stand filled with water.

Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This will allow the tree to absorb the water and help to keep it from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.

Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use nonflammable holders and place candles out of children’s reach.

Indoors or outside, always use lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing agency that indicates conformance with safety standards.

Check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets.

Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.

Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.

Before using lights outdoors, check to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.

Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use insulated staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks. Or run strings of lights through hooks.

Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks. Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

2)   Drinking and Driving

If you are planning outings to celebrate the season and they include alcohol, the best approach to ensure your safety and the safety of others is to use common sense. If you are driving home, don’t take any chances – stick to soft drinks all night. If you do wish to drink alcohol make plans in advance about how you will get home – book a taxi, arrange a designated driver or ask a friend or family member to pick you up. Make use of specialist companies that arrange to drive you home if you have drunk more than you planned – or book yourself into a hotel.

3)  Alarm System

Burglars are well known to target homes at Christmas.  They know there is a possibility that the home owner may be away and there are potentially lots of expensive gifts around.  Installing a monitored security system can help to protect your home and family.  If you already have a home alarm remember it is only effective when it is armed, so make sure you have it turned on when you are away!