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It’s that time again. To break out the tree and the tinsel. Decorating for Christmas is a happy tradition. Here’s some tips to help keep that tradition a safe one.

If you’re decorating with a live Christmas tree, make sure you get the freshest tree possible. Shake it to get rid of any excess needles before bringing it into the house. Cut an inch off the bottom of the trunk to encourage water uptake, then make sure the tree has plenty of water in the tree stand. It will drink as much as a gallon of water in the first day and about a quart a day after that. Don’t let the tree run dry!

Change your air and furnace filters. There’s many reasons to change your filters once a month, not the least of which is it reduces the possibility of carbon monoxide build up. It also keeps dirt and particulates out of your furnace equipment and helps keep your air clean.

Check all your electrical cords. After being in storage all year, check your cords for damage. Frayed cords are a fire hazard. Also, don’t overload outlets with too many plugs. This, too, is a fire hazard.

Use a timer for your Christmas lights. Depending on how many lights you add to your home during the holiday season, it can add quite a bit to your energy bill. Using a timer can save you money. Set the lights to go on automatically at dark and turn off before you go to sleep at night. This is helpful, too, if you’re spending time away during the holidays. Using a timer to turn lights on and off can make it appear people are home.

If you have a fireplace, keep the area clear. Mantles are a favorite spot to decorate at Christmas time. Make sure the area around the fireplace and hearth area are clear of anything that can catch fire.

Keep the chocolate to yourself. We love to bake cakes and cookies and desserts for the holidays. It’s a season of sharing to be sure. But don’t share these with your pets. Chocolate, in particular, can be fatal to dogs. So eat those extra brownies and say you’re doing it for the health of dear old Fido.

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