‘Tis the season to safely decorate the home with winter holiday decorations. The State Fire Marshal reminds Hoosiers that unattended candles and Christmas trees placed too close to heat sources cause many home fires during the holiday season.

“Following a few safety tips can help prevent decorating-related home fires that occur every year,” said State Fire Marshal James Greeson. “Learn about and stay aware of possible hazards that can make the holiday less than merry for you and your family.”

  • Artificial and real trees can catch fire so they should be placed at least three feet away from any heat source.
  • Consider using an electronic menorah, advent wreath, kinara or other religious candleholder to lower the chances of a fire.
  • Replace older styles of lights with newer strings that are less likely to ignite nearby materials.

Other decorating hazards include traditional holiday plants such as poinsettias, which are poisonous to pets when eaten, and fragile and sharp decorations that can injure children when broken. Avoid using these items as much as possible, but families who choose to use the decorations should place them in an out of reach location.

Decorating outdoors means possibly working in weather conditions that are “Oh! So frightful.” Prolonged exposure to harsh winds and freezing temperatures can cause frostbite and hypothermia. The symptoms for these illnesses vary based on a person’s age and health.

Adults and children should wear the following when decorating outside:

  • A scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
  • Insulated and waterproof mittens or gloves
  • Several layers of loose-fitting, thermal wear or material that wicks moisture off the skin

Every day during the holiday season, many Americans visit the emergency room due to falling from ladders. Here are a few ladder-related tips to keep in mind this holiday season:

  • Space the base of the ladder one foot away from the wall for every four feet it reaches up.
  • Use a wooden or fiberglass ladder; a metal one can conduct electricity.
  • Carry a cell phone at all times for use in the event of an accident.

For more on holiday decorating and fire safety, visit GetPrepared.in.gov.