Decorate Safe this Holiday Season

AAA Mid States

The holiday season is around the corner. Decorating your home indoors and out is a longstanding tradition – but it also comes with risks. Every year, hospital emergency rooms treat nearly 13,000 people who become injured by faulty lights and other decorations, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Playing it safe when decorating your home for the holidays can make the difference between a joyous season and one of tragedy.

Here are some tips to help you prevent holiday mishaps:

  1. Keep décor away from heat sources. Indoor lights should not touch drapes, furniture or carpeting, and candles should be placed away from flammable items. Live trees should not be near fireplaces or heaters.
  2. Take care of your tree. Buy live trees that are fresh and green, and water them regularly to keep them hydrated. If you choose an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled as “fire-resistant.” Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
  3. Don’t throw wrapping paper in the fireplace. Paper is highly flammable and can cause flash fires. Instead, recycle your wrapping paper or save it to be reused. Place a screen around your fireplace to prevent sparks from igniting flammable materials.
  4. Double-check your lights. Check your lights for frays and cracks, and make sure there is a bulb in every socket. Discard or replace any damaged strands.
  5. Power down before bedtime. Turn off all lights before you go to bed and set timers if you will be away from home, to prevent a short that could cause an electrical fire.
  6. Opt for unbreakable ornaments. Choose bulbs and decorations that won’t shatter and create a hazard if broken.
  7. Stay safe outside. Keep ladders and decorations away from overhead power lines, and don’t hammer tacks or nails into electrical cords; use clips instead. Use heavy-duty extension cords that are meant for outdoor use, and don’t overload them.
  8. Choose non-toxic plants. Festive plants like holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias are poisonous when eaten, so keep them out of reach of children and pets.


Even the most cautious decorators can experience a stroke of bad holiday luck. If you have questions about your homeowners or renters policy, contact your AAA Insurance Agent at 1-800-222-1469, go to, or stop by your local AAA office.