1. Fireplaces. Always use a fireplace screen and do not burn paper or any other material that may float out and onto furnishings-including evergreens, which, when dry, can flare out of control and send sparks flying into a room. Make sure Christmas trees are at least three feet away from fireplaces and heat sources.
2. Smoke detectors. Make sure all smoke detectors in your home are in working order. You should have at least one on each floor, including the basement.
3. Overloaded outlets. Decorations, increased cooking and houseguests all contribute to an increased reliance on extension cords and outlet adapters. Don't string extension cords across doorways, stairs, walkways or other areas where they will pose a tripping hazard. Plug your tree-and any electrical toys-into outlets protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter.
4. Overnight guests. Do not allow children to open or to play on sofa sleepers or trundle beds. Always keep hands and feet clear of mechanisms when opening or storing the mattress in a sofa sleeper. Be wary of using antique or hand-me-down beds for overnight guests. The construction may be unstable and antique hardware may be dangerous in the hands of small children. Always review safety rules with children spending the night in your home, particularly if they will be sleeping on bunk beds (not recommended for children under 6). Make sure bunk beds have been constructed to comply with the Standard Consumer Safety Specifications for bunk beds.
5. Holiday clutter. Plan ahead to handle holiday clutter. Have garbage bags ready for package wrappings so excess paper is not cluttered around fireplaces or candles in use. A storage ottoman will keep pillows and linens from overnight guests out from under-foot and away from fireplaces and candles. Bookshelves with storage baskets make for fast and easy cleanup of new toys and all their pieces. However, don't overload shelves, and consider anchoring taller units to the wall to prevent possible tipping over.
6. Safe home entertainment. One size does not fit all when it comes to today's varied-format televisions. If a new TV is on your holiday list, make sure you have the appropriate furniture to accommodate the new size and weight distribution. Never place an old TV on furniture that was not designed for electronics. Don't let children climb on or play on furniture housing a television. Avoid placing any items on top of TVs that small children may try to reach, including DVD players and remotes, as well as toys or decorations.
7. Candles. Never use lighted candles on a tree or near any evergreens. Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over. Make sure lit candles, as well as the matches or lighters used to light them, are well out of the reach of children.
8. Furniture. Upholstery that carries the gold Upholstered Furniture Action Council hangtag was manufactured using construction criteria designed to reduce the likelihood of fire caused by cigarettes, report the experts at the American Home Furnishings Alliance. Upholstery exposed to an open flame from a candle, lighter or match, however, can still ignite and may burn rapidly with thick smoke, they warn.
Keep these tips in mind to help keep your house accident- and hazard-free this holiday season. For more information, please visit www.findyourfurniture.com.
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