Holiday Safety

The holidays are a time to enjoy our favorite traditions, celebrate around the table, and make new memories with friends and family. To ensure that the festivities are both happy and safe, here are some useful holiday season fire safety tips from the City of Houma Fire Department.


Christmas Safety

Christmas trees are a part of the traditional holiday celebration. If not handled properly, they can cause an extremely dangerous fire threat. A dried-out tree can catch fire and burn a living room in just seconds. Christmas trees account for 200 fires annually. One in every 22 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in death. These statistics include both real and artificial trees.

  • When purchasing a live tree, look for one that is not shedding needles. If branches snap when bent, the tree is already too dry.
  • Keep trees watered. A mixture of lemon-lime soda and water will keep a tree moist longer.
  • Keep trees away from all heat sources, including fireplaces and room heaters.
  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for one labeled "Fire Resistant."
  • Secure the tree in the stand to keep it from toppling.
  • When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly.
  • Never use candles on a Christmas tree.
  • Never leave holiday lights or candles unattended.
  • Keep lights or candles away from anything that could easily catch fire.
  • Place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • Never block exits with decorations.
  • Extension cords should not run under rugs or carpets or be looped over nails or other sharp objects that could cause them to fray.
  • Inspect all lights and cords before using them. Discard all lights with cracked or broken wiring.
  • Use only UL or FM approved lights, and never overload circuits.
  • Holly and mistletoe are poisonous. Keep them away from children.
  • Keep wrapping paper and ribbons away from heat sources. This includes candles, lights, stoves, and heaters.
  • Wrapping paper and ribbon should be thrown away in trash containers, not fireplaces. Burning paper and ribbon could cause a chimney fire.
  • Children can choke or cut themselves on ornaments, ornament hangers, or tinsel, and can be poisoned by older painted ornaments that contain lead. Put decorations high enough on the tree so children cannot reach them.
  • Adult partygoers should establish a designated driver.

Pets and the Holidays

  • Holiday decorations can pose a threat to your pets. Consider pet-proofing your home to prevent any accidents.
  • Cats and kittens can break their limbs by falling out of Christmas trees.
  • Chewing on electrical wires can cause serious mouth burns as well as severe problems from electric shock.
  • Breakable ornaments and "angel hair" (which is made of spun glass) can cause severe cuts in the mouth and throat, which may require surgery.
  • Poinsettias and the berries of holly and mistletoe are toxic to pets.
  • Chocolate is toxic to pets, even in small amounts.
  • String used to secure roasted turkey or ham can be very tempting to pets. If eaten, the string may cause serious problems requiring surgery. Be sure all strings and netting are disposed of properly.
  • Turkey and chicken bones should never be given to pets; they splinter easily and can cause choking.
  • Pets are not "party animals" - giving alcohol to helpless creatures to get a laugh is cruel, and it can result in serious problems.
  • Do not give aspirin, Tylenol, or any painkillers to a pet unless under the advice of a vet. This can be lethal.
  • Put decorations high enough on the tree so your pet cannot reach them.

Mardi Gras Safety

Parades can be fun, but there are also many hazards along the parade routes. Keep safety in mind while enjoying the festivities.

Watch out for traffic

  • Be aware of your surroundings when driving or walking near parades and parade traffic.
  • Never run between or chase floats for beads or throws.
  • Never reach under a float for a throw, even when the float is stopped.
  • Clear the path for the band and other marching groups as they go by.
  • Do not approach horses in the parade unless the rider indicates that it is okay.
  • Do not approach a float or any other vehicle in the parade until it comes to a stop.
  • Make sure your child's vision is not obstructed by a mask.
  • Report intoxicated drivers to the proper authorities.

Throw me something!

  • Be alert for beads and trinkets thrown during the parade.
  • Wear sunglasses during the day to protect your eyes from the sun and throws.
  • Keep all beads, small trinkets, snapping pops, and plastic bags out of reach of small children.
  • Buy only appropriate toys from vendors. If a toy fits in the cardboard cylinder of a roll of tissue paper, it is a choking hazard for children.

Getting the good stuff

  • Do not park or block roadways, intersections, or bridges.
  • Report dangerous items being thrown from floats to the nearest Law Enforcement Officer.
  • Do not climb on or over barricades.
  • Do not carry anyone on your shoulders.
  • Do not hang from floats or other vehicles in the parade.

Stay together

  • Never leave children unattended.
  • Always have a meeting place in case anyone gets lost from your group.
  • Police officers can direct parents to lost child stations.

Halloween Safety

  • When shopping for costumes and accessories, look for those with a label indicating that they are flame resistant.
  • Get costumes that are bright and reflective. Add reflective tape to Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Make sure that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement, or contact with flame.
  • Masks can limit or block eyesight. Consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives.
  • Write identification (name, address, phone number) discreetly within Halloween attire.
  • Do not simulate knives, guns, or swords. If such props must be used, be certain they do not appear authentic and are soft and flexible enough to prevent injury.
  • Consider fire safety when decorating. Do not overload electrical outlets with holiday lighting or special effects.
  • Never block exits with decorations.
  • Use only battery powered lanterns in place of candles in decorations and costumes.
  • Always keep jack o'lanterns and hot electric lamps away from drapes, decorations, flammable materials, or areas where children will be walking.
  • Eliminate tripping hazards on your porch and walkway.
  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds. Stay in a group.
  • Plan a route with your children and a specific time when you will return home. Leave a copy of the plan with a family member in case of an emergency.
  • Give flashlights with fresh batteries to all children and their escorts. By using a flashlight, they can see and be seen by others.
  • Make sure your children know how call 911 if they have an emergency.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on.
  • Never enter a stranger's home or car for a treat.
  • Remain on well-lit streets, and always use the sidewalk.
  • Always walk. Never run across a street, and only cross as a group.
  • Remove any mask or item that will limit eyesight before crossing a street because some drivers may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters.
  • No treats should be eaten until they are thoroughly checked by an adult.
  • Examine all treats, and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped, or suspicious items.
  • Report any suspicious or unlawful activity to law enforcement immediately.
  • Adult partygoers should establish a designated driver.

Firework Safety

  • Know the difference between a legal consumer firework and a dangerous explosive device.
  • Stay away from illegal explosives.
  • Always read and follow label directions.
  • Use outdoors only.
  • Always wear eye protection, and never leave any part of your body over the firework.
  • Have an adult present for all fireworks activities.
  • NEVER give fireworks to small children. Fireworks are not toys.
  • Sparklers can be unsafe if used improperly.
  • Always have water handy. Use both a garden hose and a bucket.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at other people.
  • Light only one firework at a time.
  • Never relight a "dud" firework. Wait about 20 minutes, then put it in a bucket of water.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
  • Never experiment or make your own fireworks. Homemade fireworks are deadly. Leave the making of fireworks to the experts.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water before disposing of them in your trash can.
  • Stay away from anything that is not clearly labeled with the name of the item, the manufacturer's name, and instructions for proper use.
  • M-80s are not fireworks. They are federally banned explosives. If you know anyone selling such devices, contact the police department.