ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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‘Tis the Season: ANSI Members Provide Safety Tips for Holiday Decorating


New York, Dec 16, 2008

During the holiday season, families across the country take joy in decorating their homes with festive lights, candles, trees, and other ornaments. Two members of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have joined together to ensure that holiday decorations are safe and non-hazardous.

Each year, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) provide seasonal safety tips through Operation Decoration. This year’s tips focus of “TLC” – tree, light, and candle safety.

Tree Safety:
While Christmas trees with lights and ornaments are a classic holiday tradition, they can pose a fire hazard when not maintained properly. Safety guidelines for Christmas trees provided by NFPA and UL include:

  • When you bring your Christmas tree home, cut one or two inches off the bottom and place the tree in water as soon as possible.

  • Remember to keep your tree base filled with water at all times. Left un-watered over time, a tree’s needles can dry out and catch fire more easily.

  • Keep your tree a safe distance (at least three feet) from fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, heating vents and other sources of heat.

  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.

Light Safety:
Many homes are adorned with colored or white lights during the holiday season. These lights can put a home at risk for a fire if they are old, damaged, or do not carry a recognized safety certification mark, such as the UL Mark. UL and NFPA provide these safety tips for holiday lights:

  • Carefully inspect each electrical decoration before plugging it in. Cracked sockets, and frayed, bare or loose wires, can cause a serious electric shock or start a fire. Replace damaged items with new decorations.

  • Do not connect more than three light string sets together. Light strings with screw-in bulbs should have a maximum of 50 bulbs connected together.

  • Turn off all electrical light strings and decorations in your home before leaving home or going to bed.

Candle Safety:
NFPA reports that candles are the cause of 71 percent of home fires that occur during the month of December. The hazards of decorating with candles can be reduced by following these safety tips:

  • Never leave a room where candles are lit. Always blow them out!

  • Never place decorations near an open flame.

  • Keep candles away from decorations, curtains, bedding, paper, furniture and other combustible materials.

  • Keep candles out of the reach and path of children and pets to avoid the risk of having them accidentally tipped over.

For more information on “TLC” safety for holiday decorating, see the NFPA press release and UL’s Operation Decoration page.

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