ALTON — The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers the following safety tips for the holidays:
Hanging holiday lights can be a fun family activity and adds a festive touch to your home. But if you’re not careful, yuletide illuminations can also increase your risk of a home fire.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), one of every three home holiday tree fires is caused by electrical problems. As you deck the halls this season, remember to be fire smart. Here are some tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to keep your decorations from going up in smoke:
• Whether it’s indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety. Make sure your lights have a label from an independent testing laboratory;
• Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets or replace them before using;
• Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord; and
• Turn off lights on trees and other decorations before going to bed.
Winter pet protection
In many parts of the country, winter can be dangerous for four-legged family members. Taking extra precautions during winter months can ensure your pets stay happy and healthy when the temperatures plummet. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) suggests these steps:
• Keep pets warm and indoors. No matter the temperature, windchill can threaten a pet’s life. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk for frostbite when outdoors during extreme cold snaps;
• Protect paws from salt. This and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Be sure to wipe off their paws with a damp towel; and
• Avoid antifreeze poisoning. Antifreeze has a sweet taste that may attract animals but is a deadly poison. Don’t allow pets to wander unattended near driveways, garages or other places when they may come into contact with antifreeze.
Switching to a brand of antifreeze containing propylene glycol can lower your pet’s risk of poisoning, but it’s still toxic.
Frozen water pipes
During extreme cold temperatures, one of the most serious threats to your home is frozen water pipes. According to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), approximately a quarter-million homes and offices have at least one room damaged by a frozen pipe each year. FLASH encourages you to protect your property this winter by following three easy steps:
• FOAM: Insulate pipes exposed to the elements or cold drafts. By keeping your water warmer, you reduce the amount of energy needed to heat water in the cold, winter months;
• DOME: Place an insulating dome or other covering on outdoor faucets and spigots to reduce the likelihood of water pipes freezing, expanding and causing a costly leak; and
• DRIP: Allow a slow drip from your faucets to reduce the buildup of pressure in the pipes. Even if the pipes freeze, the release pressure in the water system will reduce the likelihood of a rupture.
NOTE: The Alton Fire Department provided this information.