Have a safe and worry free Christmas

Use these tips to make sure your house is decorated nicely, while still being safe.

During the holidays we often bring part of the outdoors indoors and use trees and other natural materials as seasonal decorations.  Lights, garland, Christmas trees, wreaths and more festoon in our houses, garages and yards.  We should also keep in mind that fire safety does not have a season. Anytime conditions are right, a fire could start. Holidays are a time when many curious and playful pets are at risk. Stay worry free and take preventive steps to protect your home and protect your pets from potential hazards during the holiday season.

Holiday Safety Tips

  • Inspect your yard before you begin to decorate. Do you need to remove dead branches, leaves and other debris from your yard? Keeping debris cleared away can help to protect your property from wildfire. This is especially important if you are running extension cords around your yard to power your holiday decorations. Plan to place extension cords away from where pets are when they are outside.
  • While you are hanging those lights take a moment to inspect your gutters and chimney. Clear out any debris from your gutters to keep embers from ruining your holiday. Fireplaces add both warmth and atmosphere to your festivities but one wayward spark from a yule log can cause more excitement than anticipated if it causes a fire outside.
  • Consider purchasing only locally grown trees – Locally grown trees are less likely to spread invasive insects and disease to your area. The tree is more likely to be more freshly cut because it did not have to travel as far. For the freshest tree, try the family experience of cutting your own. Additionally, you are also contributing to the support of your local economy.
  • If you have a natural Christmas tree inside your home keep it well watered. The National Fire Protection Association reports that one in every 32 reported fires are started by Christmas trees. When purchasing a Christmas tree, choose a well hydrated locally grown tree that have flexible needles and is somewhat sticky to the touch. Keep the water basin filled at all times. Use fresh water and avoid adding chemicals to the water that could harm pets if they find it desirable to drink.  A sealed water reservoir style tree stand is also an option.
  • Inspect your lights and other trimmings for soundness before installing. Inspect your holiday lights to make sure that they are completely intact with no splits or frays to avoid shorting out. Choose only pet safe materials and keep things such as glittery tinsel out of their way.  Fasten bulbs and lights strongly to the branches to prevent easy removal by climbing or playful pets.
  • When the holidays are over, properly dispose of your tree. Castoff dried Christmas trees lying about can become a tinder source for fires.  If your tree becomes dry, prematurely discard it promptly to reduce fire risk in your home. Most communities have a tree collection after the holiday or other disposal options such as composting. Avoid burning your fresh tree in a wood stove or fireplace and age your wood long enough to prevent creosote buildup.

Have a safe and worry-free Holiday season. To learn more about invasive organisms and invasive aquatic plants contact Michigan State University Extension  Natural Resources educators who are working across Michigan to provide aquatic invasive species educational programming and assistance. You can contact an educator through MSU Extension’s “Find an Expert” search tool using the keywords “Natural Resources Water Quality.”

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