NFPA, CPSC, and Maryland State Fire Marshall Provide Tips to Prevent Holiday Décor Injuries and Fires

By Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari on December 12, 2012

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and Maryland State Fire Marshal encourage consumers to take the necessary safety precautions so that they can have safe holidays.

Every November and December, and even during Easter time, millions of dollars in property damage and thousands of consumer injuries are reported as the result of fires, falls, and other incidents related to holiday decorations. In fact, the estimated number of injuries caused by holiday decorations has increased from 12,000 in 2009 to 14,000 in 2011. Property damage has also increased. The cost of property losses from Christmas tree fires has increased from $18 million to $19 million between 2008 and 2010. Candle fires in the same time period caused 74 deaths and property losses totaling $347 million.

To avoid becoming a holiday statistic, keep the following safety tips in mind:

  1. If you are buying a live tree, make sure it is fresh. The needles should be green, hard to pull from the branches, and should not break when bent between your fingers.
  2. Place your Christmas tree and any holiday decorations away from heat sources (that are ever in use).
  3. If are planning to buy an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled as “Fire Resistant.”
  4. Decorate your Christmas tree and home for any holiday with child safety in mind if you have small children. Avoid weighted, breakable, or sharp decorations.
  5. Always supervise burning candles and make sure they are on a stable and heat-resistant surface.
  6. Only use lights and/or electrical holiday displays and decorations that have been safety tested by a reputable lab, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories).
  7. Check lights before using and throw away damaged sets. Also, never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
  8. Make sure lights and other electrical displays are certified for outdoor use before actually using them outdoors.
  9. Be cautious if using “fire salts,” which create colored flames when added to wood fires. Keep away from children.
  10. Never burn wrapping paper in the fireplace, as they may ignite very rapidly and cause a flash fire.

Even by following these safety guidelines, it is possible for a defective piece of holiday decoration to create an injury or fire hazard.

If you or a loved one has suffered injury as the result of a defective product, the experienced product liability attorneys at Blume Forte can examine the details of the incident and determine whether you may have a meritorious claim. To find out more about your legal rights and options, call us for a no-cost consultation at (973) 635-5400.

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