Holiday Safety

Around this time of year, there’s plenty going on so it’s difficult to remember the importance of safety. With all the cheer being spread, the family coming to visit, and the little ones hopped-up on sweets, keeping safety safely in the back of your mind is vitally important for the sake of every family member. Here are a few scenarios that you may find yourself in this holiday season, and some important information you might find useful!

Stringing Holiday Lights

This holiday classic is sure to be on many families’ agendas around this time of year and it’s a particularly tricky one to master. It’s best to use an Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) approved ladder. To find the right type of ladder for the job and how to use it properly, click here.

Never string holiday lights while intoxicated. This can lead to some pretty serious falls and even worse consequences. Also, it’s best to work in pairs or have multiple hands around to help. You never know when you’ll need them!


This is an interesting and not so well-known fact about these pretty decorations – many of them are filled with antifreeze. This isn’t a problem if the globe is used properly, but if dropped and the glass breaks, not only are the glass shards dangerous, but the antifreeze wafts a tantalizing odour towards your pets. Indeed, antifreeze smells sweet to cats and dogs, and they will happily lumber over to lap it up but this chemical can have disastrous consequences. So please remember to keep both pets and children away if you find yourself part of a snowglobe cleanup crew!

Visiting Family Members

When family comes calling over the holidays, or you go visit other homes, be wary of the unknown. This could come in the form of baby gates, trick steps, cupboards of chemicals, or even off-limit areas. Everyone knows the hazards in their own homes but are less knowledgeable about the hazards in those of others’. To skip this hurdle, it’s best to show your guests around your house and make them aware of any unsuspecting dangers. Remind them that you have little ones and that certain areas are off-limits or certain precautions need to be addressed by everyone – like closing the baby gate!

Likewise, if going to someone else’s home, ask for the grand tour! Make sure to ask about exterior doors that can be opened by curious tots or chemicals that are easy to reach. Keep an eye on those loved ones!

Fire Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Around this colder time of year, we tend to increase the heat in our homes, running a furnace that has been out of action for some time. Carbon monoxide detectors help us identify this odourless, colourless gas and emit a high frequency noise to alert us in the event our furnaces aren’t operating properly.

Likewise, fire departments see an increase in home fires this time of year. These fires are often related to holiday lights, candles, and burning food! To avoid any fire-related mishaps this season, be certain to turn off stringed lights when not in use and blow out candles if not attended. As for burning your holiday feast, a truly unfortunate misfortune, you can keep a fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen (away from little fingers). As a last line of defense, and certainly an important one, ensure your fire alarms are working properly and change any batteries that need it!

Be certain that you have carbon monoxide detectors in all sleeping areas and a fire alarm on every level of your home, and that you test them to ensure they are working properly. If you don’t have them, or need help checking them, The City of Edmonton Fire Rescue Services provides and/or installs smoke alarms free of charge to homeowners in specific residential communities around the city. To learn more, click here.

Tree Decorating

This timeless tradition is a lovely addition to any holiday gathering! Be wary though, it can come with it’s own challenges as the glass ornaments can break if dropped or held too hard. My youngest son, Polar Bear, has a knack for choosing the most breakable objects to use for a game of toss. To prevent any mishaps this season, I put the classically delicate ornaments near the top of the tree and the stuffed-animal ones on the bottom half! Always a step ahead!

As if falling from a great height or igniting your home wasn’t enough, even the lights on a tree can pose problems – shocking ones! To prevent any electrical shocks associated with tree decorating, use strands of lights that are in good condition. Check for frays or shorted out cords and discard them. Never use more plugs than your outlet is approved for and never lay cords across doorways, stairs, or high-traffic areas. To avoid these dangers, I always put my tree in a corner next to an outlet and I only use one socket to prevent the octopus look that can be so dangerous.

And for added precaution, I also tie my tree to a banister or other stationary object to prevent it tipping over and landing on anyone (like the dog while she’s taking a midnight drink!).

Food Safety

Around the holidays, I tend to make too much food. My family has always quoted that it’s better to have too much food for guests than too little – and I’m afraid I’ve fallen into the trap of not having enough room in the fridge for leftovers! This can quickly spiral out of control and end with someone eating something that’s no longer safe to eat. To prevent this, I label any bags or containers that make their way into the fridge during the holidays. The label should always include the date the food was prepared or thawed. Always consume food within 4 days (2 days for ground beef) and discard any foods that have been in the fridge for longer. No one likes getting sick during the holidays and it can be quite dangerous for little ones or pregnant women.

Inappropriate Toys

Lastly, watch what your child(ren) receive over the holidays. You may have plenty of visitors and well-wishers come to your door and dote on your little ones – but not all people know the developmental stage your child is at. Watch for toys that have button batteries, are made of little parts, aren’t age appropriate, or are exceedingly delicate. My four year old son has asked, and asked, and asked Santa for a toy Nerf gun this year. Even though I’ve written to Santa numerous times on my child’s behalf to regretfully decline his request, Santa has approved this toy and I now wait in distress (my internal mental dilemma of wanting my child to be happy, yet safe). Therefore, I have conceded and am now prepping my child with talks on the dangers of guns and how this toy, approved for my four year old, must be kept well away from my two year old, whom it is not age appropriate. *Sigh*

Last Tidbits

 I do hope this short list of precautions helps you and your family prepare for the wondrous holiday season this year! Remember, it is always practical to be safe and take the extra time and thought to do things the safe way!

If you have any tips on holiday safety, please share them with your friendly KARA staff or neighbours. You never know who it could save!