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NEWS and NOTES: >> There's No Place Like a Safe Home for the Holidays:

Six Seasonal Safety Tips From AHFA

HIGH POINT, N.C. – A crackling fire in the fireplace, candles on the mantle, goodies in the oven and a houseful of family and friends. The stage is set for festive holiday celebrations – and for increased hazards in the home.

Keep your family and friends safe throughout the season by following these six safety tips from the American Home Furnishings Alliance, in conjunction with the Upholstered Furniture Action Council.

  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 other heat sources.
  2. 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. Buying upholstery that carries the gold Upholstered Furniture Action Council hangtag means the piece was manufactured using construction criteria designed to reduce the likelihood of fire caused by cigarettes. However, upholstery exposed to an open flame from a candle, lighter or match can still ignite and may burn rapidly with toxic gas and thick smoke.
  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 (ASTM F-1427).
  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 fast and easy clean up of new toys and all their pieces. However, don’t overload shelves, and consider anchoring taller units to the wall to prevent possible tipover.
  6. Safe home entertainment. Nearly all American homes have televisions, and a growing number have home theaters or larger format televisions. One size does not fit all when it comes to today’s varied format televisions. If a new TV is on your holiday wish list, make sure you have the appropriate furniture to accommodate the new size and weight distribution. Don’t allow children to 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 VCRs and remotes as well as toys or decorations.

Finally, make sure all smoke detectors in your home are in working order. You should have at least one on each floor, including the basement.


The American Home Furnishings Alliance is headquartered in High Point, N.C. – the furniture capital of the world – and represents more than 200 leading U.S. furniture manufacturers and an additional 250 suppliers to the industry.