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Posted by: Katie Gorodetsky – WIC's Immunization Coordinator


As the cold weather settles in and the holidays approach, it’s important to remember some safety tips while heating your home this winter and decorating for the holidays. According to the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System (MFIRS) there were 2,775 fires during the past holiday season. Be sure to keep your family and loved ones safe this season by practicing these safety tips:

Space Heater Safety

  • Use a space heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and has been certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
  • Place the heater on a level, hard, nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor.
  • Keep the heater at least three feet away from bedding, drapes, furniture, and other flammable materials.
  • Turn the heater off if you leave the area.
  • Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep.
  • The sale and use of unvented kerosene heaters is illegal in Massachusetts.

Also, be sure to place smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home, outside of sleeping areas and inside each bedroom.  Make sure that your batteries in all alarms are fresh and working. Families should plan and practice a home escape plan and have a meeting place outside in case of an emergency.

To learn more about space heater and home heating safety, click here.

Christmas Tree Safety Tips

  • Buy a cut tree as fresh as possible. Tap the butt on the ground and grab a branch near the top and pull your hand along it slowly. Needles should not fall off. If you bend a needle and it breaks before bending in half, it’s too dry!
  • Water a live tree every day.
  • If you use an artificial tree, select one with a flame retardant label, and do not use electric lights on metal trees.
  • Place your tree and decorations away from heaters, fireplaces, candles, and other sources of heat.
  • Purchase electric holiday lights that are listed by an approved testing agency and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Consider switching to new LED lights that are cooler and use less electricity. Make sure the bulbs themselves are not touching the tree, curtains, wrapped gifts, and tree skirts.
  • To prevent injury, be sure to pay extra attention to ensure that children avoid sharp or breakable decorations and do not pull on the tree branches. Also, avoid trimmings that might resemble candy or food because a child could swallow or choke on them.


Candle Safety Tips

  • Burn candles within a one-foot “Circle of Safety”, free of anything that can burn.
  • Stay in the same room with burning candles; never leave candles unattended.
  • Be sure candles have burned out/been extinguished before falling asleep, going out, or leaving the room.
  • Never use light candles as decorations.
  • Burn candles on a non-combustible saucer or candleholder.
  • Teach everyone in the family the rules of safe candle use.
  • Keep candles out of reach of children and pets.

For more information about winter holiday fire safety click here:

Stay safe and happy holidays!

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