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Holiday Safety Tips

Every year we see patients in the Burn Center at Westchester Medical Center who suffer needless injuries or lose their lives due to accidents involving holiday festivities and decoration.  Please read these safety tips and take the extra time to ensure the safety of your loved ones.

All the staff at the Burn Center at Westchester Medical Center would like to wish you and your family a joyous and safe holiday season.

  • Christmas Trees
    When purchasing a natural tree, the most important factor is freshness. A dry tree is a fire hazard.  To check the moisture content of the tree, take the needles and bend them between your fingers.  If they are fresh, they won't break.  Tap the tree lightly on the ground.  If many needles fall off, the tree is too dry.

    Keep your tree outside until you are ready to decorate it.  Place the tree in a sturdy, stable holder with a wide base, and fill the holder with water until the cut line is covered.  Check and refill on a daily basis.  Never place the tree where it can block an exit.  Dispose of the tree when the needles begin to fall off in large quantities.  This is a sign that it is becoming dangerously dry.
  • Lighting
    Purchase lights that have been checked for safety.  Check your tree and outdoor lights each year before you use them.  Looked for frayed wires, loose connections, broken or cracked sockets and spots where bare wire is exposed.  All lights should be fastened securely to the tree and not in direct contact with the needles or branches.  Curtains and other flammable materials should also be kept away from lights.  Don't overload extension cords.  Never put more than three sets of lights on any extension cord.  Keep the connection joints away from the water supply of the tree.

    Outdoor lights should be waterproof and clearly identified for outdoor use.  When you leave the house or retire for the evening, be sure that all lights are turned off by unplugging them from the wall outlet.  Always disconnect any electric appliance by grasping the plug, not by pulling the cord.  Remove outdoor lighting when the season is over; even those lights that are designed to withstand prolonged exposure to the elements. Besides, your neighbors will probably make fun of you if you don't.
  • Candles
    Never use wax candles on or near a tree.  This is a very serious fire hazard.  Any decorative candles should be kept well away from children and any flammable materials.  Never leave candles unattended.
  • Fireplaces
    Have chimneys inspected and cleaned before the winter begins.  Before starting a fire, remove all decorations from the area and be sure that the flue is open.  Never use flammable liquids to accelerate the fire.  Keep a screen in front of the fireplace whenever the fire is burning.  Be sure that the flame is out prior to retiring at night or leaving the house.  Do not burn wrappings or evergreen boughs which can burn suddenly or rapidly, throwing off sparks and burning debris.
  • Cooking
    Wear close-fitting clothing and sleeves when cooking.  Turn pot handles inward on the stove so that they can't be easily knocked or pulled down.  Never leave children unattended where food is cooking.  If food or grease catches fire, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turn off the burner.
  • Entertaining
    Please keep in mind that children are highly susceptible to scald injuries.  Just a small cup of hot cider spilled onto a young child can cause a severe burn.  Keep all hot liquids out of reach of children.  When using tablecloths, be extremely careful if there are small children around who may pull on them and bring the table's contents onto themselves.
  • Smoke Alarms
    Check the batteries in all your smoke alarms.  These devices save lives every year and are the best protection against injury if a fire should occur in your home.  Just a quick check can save you a lifetime of pain.


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