Home safety tips for the holidays

WASHINGTON – This special time of year, no one wants a visit from the local fire department or a trip to the emergency room.

John Drengenberg, director of consumer safety with Underwriters Laboratories, gave WTOP some home safety tips to help prevent these holiday horror scenarios.

If Santa brought toys with small parts for young kids in your house, test those parts for safety, Drengenberg said.

“Use the center of a toilet paper roll, and if the part drops through it could be a choking hazard for a small child,” he said. “If it can’t get through that tube, then it’s probably okay for children under three years of age.”

Lots of people love to set a holiday mood by burning candles, but you should never leave candles burning unattended in an empty room. It’s a common way house fires can start.

“People will say I just left the room for second, and that candle must have blown over, or fallen over or the cat knocked it over,” Drengenberg said.

Instead, he suggested using battery-powered flameless candles. The latest models are realistic and look like they have a flickering wick.

Finally, if you’re hosting a holiday party and cooking in the kitchen at the same time, carry a potholder or oven mitt around with you so you don’t forget the food.

“The number one cause of fires in the home year round, not just at the holidays, is kitchen fires,” Drengenberg said. “That’s usually attributed to cooking.”

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