For many Americans, decorating with trees, lights and ornaments adds to the festive feel of the holiday season. But the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the National Safety Council warn that steps should be taken to avoid missteps that can mar the holiday season.

The CPSC says that more than 8,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for injuries related to holiday lights, decorations and Christmas trees. In addition, the commission reports, Christmas trees are linked to 400 fires annually that result in a yearly average of 30 deaths and 90 injuries.

The Safety Council offers these tips for making this holiday season a safe one:


Place natural trees in sturdy, water-holding stands, and keep the stand filled with water. Keep all trees away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources, and make sure they do not block foot traffic or doorways.


Make sure lights are appropriate to their location (indoor or outdoor). Check for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Turn off all lights on trees and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house.


Never use lighted candles on trees or near other decorative evergreens. Families with children should avoid decorations with sharp edges or removable parts, as well as those that are easily broken. Also make sure children know whether ornaments that might appear to be edible, such as candy canes or popcorn chains, can be consumed.