Planning for this time of year is a joyful time. But all of the decorations, extra electrical cords and guests visiting your home call for more safety precautions.


• Ask friends or neighbors to watch your house and take in your newspaper and mail if you plan to travel this season. Put lights throughout the house on timers as well.

• If you display a live Christmas tree or greenery, select the freshest possible. A moist tree is less likely to catch fire.


• When using a live tree, cut the base at a 45-degree angle. Place it in a container with water and always keep the water level above the cut.

• Place trees a safe distance from stoves, vents and any other heat source that may dry the tree. Inspect it daily for dryness.

• Inspect all holiday light wiring. Defective, worn or frayed electrical wiring should be thrown away. Check for the UL label on lights. Also, use fixtures specifically designed for outdoor use if you decorate your house, trees or yard.

• Use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord. Also, don’t run electrical cords under rugs. Be sure all lights are turned off before you go to bed or leave the house.


• Place candles and other open flames away from decorations. Never leave burning candles unattended and always supervise children when burning candles.

• Keep a fire extinguisher near your Christmas tree. Make sure your family has a fire emergency escape plan.

• When buying artificial decorations, check for “flameproof” or “fire retardant” qualities.

• Never burn wrapping paper in a fireplace. Certain ink pigments react with heat and create airborne particulates that are dangerous to inhale. Also, don’t burn evergreens.


Learn more about home safety at

Karen Nakamura is CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii.