Avoiding Holiday-Decoration Hazards

As a safety precaution, holiday lights should be turned off

Enjoy a festive and safe holiday season with a few simple
decorating tips
‘Tis the season to deck the halls, but a few safety tips can ensure decked halls remain safe halls.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued holiday-decoration safety tips earlier this year to raise awareness of hidden dangers lurking in Yuletide finery.

Following these safety precautions will help keep the holidays happy.


– Never put lighted candles on or near a Christmas tree, and always use nonflammable holders. Never leave candles burning unattended, and do not place them near combustible items.

– Candles should be burned inside a 2-foot circle of safety, free of anything that can catch fire, according to the Gilroy Fire Department. Because more people use candles this time of year, the number of fires caused by candles increases, said Hollister Fire Chief Bill Garringer.


– Wear gloves while decorating with “angel hair,” which is made up of thin strands of spun glass. Gloves can help to avoid irritation to the skin and to prevent transferring glass to the eyes.

– In homes with small children, keep decorations with small, removable parts out of reach. The pieces could be swallowed or inhaled.

– Avoid sharp or breakable decorations or holiday trimmings that resemble candy, as children may try to eat them.


– Check to make sure the flue is open before lighting a fire in the fireplace. Also, keep a screen in front of the fireplace at all times when a fire is burning.

– Never leave a fire or smoldering ashes unattended, according to the Gilroy Fire Department.


-Remove all wrapping paper from under the tree and around the fireplace immediately after opening gifts. Do not burn wrapping paper in the fireplace, as it can ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

– Never place paper decorations near open flames or electrical connections.


– Many artificial trees are fire resistant. If you buy an artificial tree, look for a label on the box specifying that it is fire resistant.

– A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree. If a tree is fresh, its needles should be hard to pull from the branches. Fresh needles won’t break when bent in your fingers. Also, the trunk butt should be sticky with resin, and when the trunk butt is bounced on the ground, there shouldn’t be a shower of falling needles.

– Place the tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources.

– Do not block doorways with a tree.

– Keep the tree well-watered, making sure to check and refill the water often, according to the Gilroy Fire Department.

“As soon as Christmas is over, get the dry tree out of the house and dispose of it properly,” Garringer said. “Do not lay it by the side of the garage. This is like installing a fuse on your house.”

Artificial snow

– Artificial snow sprays can irritate the lungs if inhaled. To avoid injury, read container labels and follow directions carefully.


-Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked bulbs and sockets, as well as for frayed or bare wires. Discard any damaged light strings.

– Fasten outdoor lights firmly to trees, the house or other firm structures of support to prevent wind damage.

– Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house.

– Take care not to overload electrical outlets, according to the Gilroy Fire Department. Use no more than three standard-sized sets of lights per single extension cord.

Properly Disposing of Your Christmas Tree

When the holidays are finished and you’re ready to take down your Christmas tree, hauling it out to the curb might not be enough to get it taken away. Here are some city-specific guidelines for disposing of trees.

In all cities, flocked trees and trees with stands or decorations still on them will not be picked up.


Put your Christmas tree at the curb on your regular yard waste pick-up day for collection during the first two weeks of January. Trees must be in 4-foot sections.


The local Boy Scouts will be collecting Christmas trees in Hollister, San Juan Bautista and surrounding neighborhoods Jan. 2 , Jan. 7 and Jan. 8. Trees must be on the curb by 9am on those dates. 

Donations of $7 support local Boy Scout activities and the Gerry Rawn Endowment Fund. For more

information, call (831) 638-9646.

Norcal Waste Systems of San Benito County will pick up Christmas trees for recycling between Dec. 26 and Jan. 13. If you have yard waste service, put your tree at the curb on your yard waste collection day. If you do not have yard waste service, put your tree at the curb on your garbage and recycling collection day.

Morgan Hill

Put Christmas trees at the curb on your regular yard waste pick-up day for collection. Trees must be cut in half if they’re taller than 6 feet.

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