Holiday Hazards:

Stay safe & injury-free this holiday season

Decorating for the holidays is fun for the entire family. However, there are many items in homes during the holiday season that can be dangerous, that require extra supervision – especially in homes with young children.

To keep your holidays merry and safe, follow these safety tips:

Temperatures are dipping and snow flurries are flying. HAVE FUN this winter & follow these tips to remain safe & injury-free:

  • Keep matches, lighters and candles out of reach of children.
  • Avoid wearing loose flowing clothes—particularly long, open sleeves—near open flames, such as those of a fireplace, stove, or candlelit table.
  • Plan for safety: Remember, there is no substitute for common sense. Look for and eliminate potential danger spots near candles, fireplaces, trees, and/or electrical connections.

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

For sledding, skiing, and snowboard safety, visit our Winter Safety Page.

Protect your child from burns in the home. Every day more than 400 children are treated in emergency rooms for burn-related injuries.

Take burn safety precautions to prevent injuries and dangerous situations:

  • Do not leave fireplaces, space heaters, food cooking on stoves, or candles unattended.
  • Many ordinary things in a home — including bath water, food and electrical outlets — can cause childhood burns.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and any person touching a branch could be electrocuted! To avoid this danger, use colored spotlights above or beside a tree, never fastened onto it!
  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree.

Keep children and pets in mind when placing decorations on a tree:

  • Remove all wrapping paper, bags, paper, ribbons, and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose as suffocation and choking hazards to a small child or cause a fire if near a flame.
  • Keep potentially poisonous holiday plant decorations, including mistletoe berries, Jerusalem cherry, and holly berry away from children.

Source: HIPRC Burn Safety; U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission


The holidays can be stressful.

BE MINDFUL this winter & follow these tips to remain safe & injury-free:

  • Check-in regularly with your kids. Ask open-ended questions, listen to their feelings, and seek help if needed.
  • Look for warning signs of anxiety and/or depression, such as withdrawal from friends and family, talking about suicide or death, desperation, and isolation.
  • Learn how to use practical, effective interventions to decrease the risk of a young person attempting or completing suicide. Over 5,200 young people commit suicide each year.

Source: HIPRC Suicide Prevention Guide; HIPRC Mental Health toolkit

Falls are the primary cause of injury among older adults. More than one in four adults (age 65 and older) fall each year. There are several tools and programs to help reduce risk of falling and fall-related injury.

BE PREPARED this winter & follow these tips to remain safe & injury-free:

  • Have your eyes checked at least once a year.
  • Remove trip hazards at home.
  • Add lighting where needed.
  • When going outside, remember that sidewalks and stairs may be slippery.

Source: HIPRC Fall Prevention

Carbon monoxide poisoning is an illness that occurs from breathing in carbon monoxide (CO) gas.  It’s a medical emergency and needs treatment right away. CO is a colorless, odorless gas made when fuel burns. Fuels include wood, gasoline, coal, natural gas, and kerosene. Breathing in carbon monoxide fumes prevents the body from using oxygen normally. This can harm the brain, heart, and other organs.

Most carbon monoxide exposure happens in the winter. This is because the most common source of CO poisoning is an unvented, kerosene or gas fueled space heater in the home. It vents the gases into the room, instead of outdoors. A space heater that is not installed right or not working correctly can release carbon monoxide and other toxic fumes into the room. It can use up much of the oxygen in the room.

Carbon monoxide can also leak from home or camping appliances that use oil, wood, gas, or coal and are not working properly, such as:

  • Stove and oven
  • Gas log burner
  • Ceiling-mounted heating unit
  • Heating furnace
  • Barbecue grill
  • Gas fueled generators
  • Wood burning fireplace
  • Clogged chimney
  • Vehicle with engine running
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Fire

To prevent CO poisoning:

  • Never use a gas oven or portable flameless chemical heaters indoors
  • Never use a generator inside your home, basement or garage or less than 20 feet from windows, doors or vents
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors near each separate sleeping area
  • Get the chimney, furnace and other appliances serviced regularly

Here’s a list of resources to prepare for the weather:

  • If you or a family you know is struggling in Washington state, call 211 to get help.
  • What to do when your home power goes out
  • What to pack in your car and your home in case of emergency

Credit: Nationwide Children’s // University of Washington, School of Medicine

As you deck the halls this holiday season, be fire smart. A small fire that spreads to a holiday tree can grow large very quickly.

Picking the tree

  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

Placing the tree

  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk. • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit
  • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting the tree

  • Use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed

After the holidays

  • Get rid of the tree after the holidays or when it is dry. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

Source: National Fire Protection Agency


Twelve Days of Injury Prevention Tips – (Click to view)



Stay Safe and Injury-free – (PDF)



Stay Safe and Injury-free – (PNG) | (JPG)

General Safety Tips – (PNG) | (JPG)

Fall Prevention Safety Tips – (PNG) | (JPG)

Mental Health Safety Tips – (PNG) | (JPG)