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There’s no place like a safe home for the holidays

SAFETY FIRST — Double-check all outlets, especially when loaded with extra plugs, during the holidays.
The stage may be set for a festive Christmas celebration, but the holidays can also usher in increased hazards, in the home. Homeowners can help keep themselves and their families safe throughout the season, by following these safety tips.

– Always use a fireplace screen and do not burn paper or any other material that may float out and onto furnishings, including evergreens, which, when dry, can flare up and send sparks flying into a room. Make sure that Christmas trees are at least 3 feet away from fireplaces and other heat sources.

– Ensure that all smoke detectors in the home are in working order. At least one should be located on each floor, including the basement.

– Decorations, cooking and house guests can all contribute to an increased reliance on extension cords and outlet adapters. Do not string extension cords across doorways, stairs, walkways or other areas, where they can pose a tripping hazard. Plug Christmas trees and electric toys into outlets protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter.

– Do not allow children to open or play on sofa sleepers or trundle beds. Always keep extremities clear of mechanisms, when opening or storing the mattress in a sofa sleeper.

Be wary of using antique or hand-me-down beds for overnight guests. The construction may be unstable and old hardware may be dangerous, in the hands of children. Always review safety rules with children spending the night, especially if they will be sleeping on bunk beds, which are not recommended for children younger than 6. Make sure that bunk beds have been constructed to comply with the Standard Consumer Safety Specifications.

– Plan ahead to handle holiday clutter. Have garbage bags ready for package wrappings, so excess paper is not cluttered around fireplaces or lit candles. A storage ottoman will keep pillows and linens out from under foot and away from fireplaces and candles. Bookshelves with storage baskets make for easy cleanup of new toys and their pieces.

Do not overload shelves and consider anchoring taller units to the wall, to prevent possible tipping.

– One size does not fit all, when it comes to today’s TVs. Those planning to purchase a new TV, this holiday season, should ensure they have the appropriate furniture to accommodate the new size and weight distribution.

Never place a large TV onto furniture that was not designed for electronics. Do not let children climb on or play on furniture housing a TV or other large electronics. Avoid placing any items on top of TVs that small children may try to reach, including DVD players and remotes, toys or decorations.

– Never use lit candles on a tree or near evergreens. Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over. Make sure lit candles, as well as the matches or lighters used to light them, are out of the reach of children.

– Upholstery exposed to an open flame from a candle, lighter or match can ignite and may burn rapidly, with thick smoke.

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