Holiday Safety Web Sites

Holiday celebrations are a time for joy but they can also be a time for injury. Hazards include toys that are poorly constructed, manufactured or are inappropriate for the recipient. Fire hazards increase with the use of candles and faulty decorations. Holiday plants can present a risk for poisoning. Many ring in the New Year with a display of fireworks. The risk of motor vehicle crashes increases during the holiday season as families travel to multiple holiday celebrations. The risk is higher if travel is combined with fatigue, alcohol and potentially hazardous road conditions.

The following web sites are provided to guide injury prevention efforts and as a source of holiday safety tips.

  • Safe America Foundation - This site includes fact sheets on kitchen safety for the holiday, driving hazards and a holiday safety planner.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - There are sections on firework-related injury, alcohol-related traffic fatalities and impaired driving. In addition, there is a wide range of safety topics including; seasonal safety tips, links to organizations with additional information on other health issues.

  • National SafeKids Campaign - Users can look up fact sheets on holiday safety, toy injury and residential fire injury, which are the leading causes of holiday trauma.

  • SafeKids Canada - More holiday safety at the SafeKids Canada site which includes more fact sheets on holiday safety tips, including safe decorating, candle safety, toy safety, safe celebrations and safe traveling.

  • The American Trauma Society - For community groups looking for brochures on holiday safety. "ATS Holiday Safety Card" is one of the brochures available for a fee.

  • Consumer Product Safety Commission - This site has a large listing of holiday safety publications that can be ordered online: Fireworks Safety Tips for the Millennium, Fireworks Safety Alert, and Holiday Safety and Merry Christmas with Safety. You can also look for the 2000 "Toy Safety Tips for Holiday Shoppers" guide by going to the CPSC home page and clicking on Toy Safety Publications in the Spotlight section. Look in the recall listing to see if any of the toys you have purchased or in your home are on the list.


  • If you are purchasing an artificial tree check to ensure it is fire resistant

  • To tell if the tree is fresh:

    • Color is vibrant green

    • Needles are hard to pull from branches

    • Fresh needles are hard to break, they will bend

    • Needles that fall easily from a tree indicated the tree is too dry

    • The trunk will be sticky with resin

  • Fresh trees require watering daily and sometimes more often if the environment is dry

  • Before setting up the tree cut off at least two inches of the trunk for better water absorption

  • Trim away branches at the trunk so the tree will set easily in the stand

  • Have a sturdy tree stand, with a wide base or if the stand is the enclosed type place sand in the stand to give the base weight.

  • Keep the tree away from a fireplace, wood burning stove, radiator or heater

  • Place the tree well away from traffic areas and do not block doorways

  • Use wires from the tree to the ceiling to secure the tree so it will not topple over onto small children

  • If using a large plastic bag for fresh tree removal keep small children away as these items can potentially result in suffocation


  • Artificial snow sprays can irritate lungs if inhaled, read the directions first

  • Simmering pots or incense burners should be out in open areas and watched closely, never leave a simmering pot heating while away from home

  • Keep simmering pots out of reach of children

  • Keep garland well away from young children as they can become tangled and strangle


  • Small ornaments are easily ingested by small children and animals and can cause choking, so place these ornaments high on the tree away from the reach of children

  • Ornaments, toys and toy parts which are small enough to fit through a paper tissue roll tube can obstruct a child's airway and cause choking

  • Glass ornaments can break leaving sharp pieces on the floor, keep them away from children and animals

  • Avoid trimmings which look like food or candy when small children are in the home, they may be mistaken for food and children may try to eat them


  • Keep light strings high on the tree, children can strangle on the light strings or sustain an electrical burn

  • Use lights as directed, indoor lights and outdoor lights are identified on the labels

  • Check each set of lights for broken, cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, discard damaged sets

  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, walls, or other firm support to protect from wind damage

  • Check outdoor lights frequently for worn areas, frays and splits from the cold weather

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

  • Do not run extension cords under carpets and rubs, across doorways, or near heaters

  • Turn off all lights and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house, lights can short and start a fire

  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree

  • Keep outside spot lights away from pedestrian areas, these lights become very hot and can cause burns if touched

  • Secure outdoor decorations with thin guide-wires to ensure they are not blown over or off the building by strong winds


  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens

  • Always use non-flammable non-tip candle holders

  • Keep candles away from other decorations and wrapping paper

  • Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over

  • Keep candles away from curtains and other combustible items


  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials

  • Wear gloves and goggles while decorating with spun glass (angel hair) to avoid irritation to eyes and skin

  • Choose tinsel or artificial icicles made of plastic or non-leaded materials. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children

Fireplaces/wood burning stoves

  • Remove all green boughs, papers and other trimmings from the fire place area

  • Check to see that the flue is open

  • Keep a screen before the fireplace at all times while a fire is burning

  • Before closing the flue, be sure that the fire is out completely

  • Ensure that a fire is completely out before going to sleep or leaving home

  • Teach young children to stay away from fires and heat sources (fireplace, stove, candles, wood burning stoves)

  • Keep heat sources at least 3 feet away from furniture, decorations, bedding, clothing and walls


  • Choose toys wisely for the appropriate age child

  • Avoid those that could be highly flammable

  • Make sure an adult is supervising any child using an electrical toy

Shopping Tips

  • Keep young children secure in shopping carts, use safety belts

  • Do not allow children to stand up inside shopping carts or to ride on the front or sides of the cart

  • Watch children closely as they can easily pull items from shelves onto themselves

  • Do not leave children unattended in shopping carts for even a second

  • When buying a bicycle, skate board, roller blades, roller skates or sled BUY A HELMET TOO

  • Buy flame retardant toys and clothing for children


  • Do not drink and drive

  • Provide non-alcoholic beverages at parties

  • Monitor alcohol consumption of guests and friends

  • Make efforts to keep impaired drivers and pedestrians off the roadways

  • Check smoke alarm batteries and function

  • Have emergency service numbers readily available if not in a 911 community

  • Wear your seatbelts and insure all child occupants are properly restrained in car seats or belts - It's the law

The information on the Loyola University Health System (LUHS) Web site is for educational purposes only. It is presented in summary form in order to impart general information relating to certain diseases, ailments, physical conditions and their treatments. The information provided through the LUHS Web site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease, nor is it a substitute for professional care. Should you have any health-care related questions or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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