Christmas Safety


Steven Burnett joins us for another guest blog. Steven is a certified Professional Home Inspector with Journey Property Inspections, LLC, covering all of Southeastern Michigan. He also does radon testing, water quality testing, and lead paint testing.


It is the time of the year when the Christmas tree comes out of storage with all of the lights and decorations, and little eyes glow with anticipation.  I say ‘out of storage’ because I can count on one hand the number of real trees our family has had over the last 40 years.  I have always had a fear of a Christmas tree fire, so we went the route of the artificial tree.   Most of you are too young to remember when the first ones came out. One was the “Mr. Christmas Tree.”   We were the first on the block to have one.  As I look at old pictures, it didn’t look much like a tree, and if the truth be known, it probably wasn’t much safer than a real tree.

We are now in the 21st century, when artificial Christmas trees look like the real thing and the lights are much smaller and safer than the old ones we had when I was a kid.  They even have the energy efficient L.E.D. lights now.  But parents should beware.   There are hazards with artificial trees and the miniature lights that we have all become accustom to.   We are all aware of the potential fire hazards and the potential electrical shock hazards.  But were you aware that Christmas trees and Christmas lights might have lead in them?  It is true.  The protective coating on Christmas tree light wires is made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which can contain lead.  You are probably asking, if lead is such a health risk, why is it used to make PVC, and as a coating on Christmas tree light strings?

Well:

  • It reduces the risk of a fire.
  • It increases the flexibility of the PVC plastic, which is important for light strands.
  • It stabilizes the color of the PVC.
  • It prevents the cords from cracking or crumbling.
  • It makes cords resistant to heat, light and water damage.

So it is important that you read the label on the box and the cord.  Try and buy “Made in USA” products.  Our product guidelines for lead and other hazardous materials are much stricter than foreign countries, particularly China.

So what should you do?  Use gloves when handling the Christmas tree and lights, and keep the little ones away, particularly from the strings of lights.   I know that is easier said than done.  If children (or adults) do touch lights or branches, have them wash their hands thoroughly right away. Try not putting gifts under the tree until the day before Christmas.  If your kids are like mine, they were more interested in what was under the tree, than the tree itself.

Well, I hope this helps you during the Christmas season.  From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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