Caution urged for holidays

While it’s always nice to bring a fresh Christmas tree into the house for the holidays, not everyone buys a real tree. But whether the tree is real or artificial, safety is the key to a good holiday season.

Sooner or later, many will haul out the artificial Christmas tree or start the search for a natural tree. Before you begin stringing lights or hanging tinsel, Commonwealth Edison urges you to please consider a few precautions to ensure that the holiday season will be safe as well as bright and colorful.

For starters, it’s always a good idea to inspect last year’s lighting sets and discard any damaged plugs or cords. Use only lighting sets and extension cords that carry the Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) label.

Second, keep tinsel away from electrical plugs and sockets. If you prefer a natural tree, be sure to water it frequently, and keep burning candles, smoking materials or other sources of ignition safely away.

Third, metal trees have become increasingly popular in recent years. If you prefer this type, never decorate it with lights. Use a floodlight instead—perhaps in combination with a color wheel—to achieve the same festive effect.

Fourth, if you’re decorating outside, check to make sure the lighting sets are approved for outdoor use. And, Edison advises, always maintain a safe distance from overhead electrical power lines or facilities, especially when using a metal ladder or tools.

Electrical safety cannot stop with the tree, however. Many of the younger family members will be receiving electrical toys for the first time, and proper handling can be a child’s first experience with electrical safety. Underwriters’ Laboratories helps to ensure safety in toy construction as well as in lighting sets, extension cords and appliances.

The UL seal on an electrical toy shows that the item has been tested for the safety of its electrical parts. With various electrical toys, such as stoves and irons, children need adult supervision to learn how to operate them safely.