Simple holiday safety tips could make the difference between a peaceful or disastrous holiday season. Trees, lights and holiday cheer make this such a special time of year, so don't let your celebrations turn to tragedies because of dangerous decorations, faulty fireplaces or other common causes of household accidents. 

Here are several holiday safety tips to help keep your family safe:

Holiday Fires:  Before the holidays start, check the batteries in all smoke detectors. Also, consider purchasing a fire extinguisher and mount it centrally in the home. There are three different types of fire extinguishers, for Class A, B, and C fires. Homeowners should have at least a Class B-C extinguisher which is good for trash and paper fires as well as fires caused by grease and flammable liquids.

Safe Holiday Trees:  Both real and artificial trees can present potential fire hazards. Christmas trees that are cut can easily catch fire when they get dried out. To prevent an unwanted blaze, purchase your tree as close to the holidays as possible, so it is fresher. Cut the trunk at a 45 degree angle when setting it up, so it absorbs the most water. And, make sure you fill the tree stand with water at least once a day.

Holiday Home Safety TipsArtificial trees must be fire resistant. Avoid reusing old-fashioned metal trees that have the added danger of electrocution if they come in contact with a faulty string of lights.

The safest Christmas tree is a live potted tree, which won't dry out and can be replanted in your yard instead of thrown on the trash heap. The tree should be moved outside within three weeks, before it becomes too acclimated to indoor heat. After Christmas, keep it in its burlap in the garage or similar area. You can plant the tree when the ground thaws next spring.

Holiday Lights:  Only use lights with the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) seal of approval. Old light strings can be dangerous, so check yours for signs of excess wear. Look for broken or cracked light sockets, worn or frayed wire and loose plugs. Use only smaller lights indoors. The larger, thumb-size lights get extremely hot and could cause a fire if they touch dried-out pine needles or paper decorations. An important holiday safety tip for these larger lights is to use them outdoors and to make sure they are in good condition. Finally, never leave indoor holiday lights on when you are not home.

Holiday Decorations:  To ensure your holiday safety, use only non-flammable decorations. Never leave candles burning unsupervised or near anything that can catch fire, like pine needles. Be careful placing decorations in reach of toddlers, who can choke on small ornaments and other holiday mementos. If you use string to tie up decorations or support your Christmas tree, remember to guard against a curious child getting tangled up in it. Make sure your tinsel does not contain lead, which can be poisonous to children and adults, if swallowed.

Holiday Wrapping Paper:  Holiday paper can create a mine-field for unwary adults. It is slippery and also a fire hazard. Be sure to clean up paper promptly and keep traffic areas clear at all times.

Romantic Mistletoe:  This long-standing tradition for friends and lovers is a poisonous plant. Be sure to attach yours firmly and well away from the grasp of small hands.

Fireplaces:  Indoor fires can be dangerous any time of the year. But they could be particularly unsafe when around wrapping paper, decorations and holiday trees. When starting your fire, remove all flammable objects from the area, open the flue and always use an ash screen to prevent sparks from shooting across the room.

By following these easy holiday safety tips, you can ensure that you and your family enjoy a safe and happy holiday.

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