By Jim Donovan

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Holiday decorations make a home more festive, but they can also be dangerous if consumers are not careful. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan has some advice to keep your family and your pets safe.

New numbers from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) point to a recent increase in injuries related to holiday decorations. The estimated number of incidents, including fires, has gone up from 12,000 in 2009 to 14,000 last holiday season. The CPSC estimates that Christmas tree fires cost consumers as much as $19 million in property damage between 2008 and 2010.
A longer stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year means even more caution is needed with live trees.

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Inez Tenenbaum, CPSC Chairman says, “Consumers are buying them earlier and earlier and that can cause problems. Often, people are having such a great time during the holidays that they forget to water the tree which can lead to a terrible fire.”

In addition to keeping the tree stand filled with water, place the tree a safe distance from heat sources like vents, radiators, and fireplaces. Lights with broken or cracked sockets, frayed wires, or loose connections shouldn’t be used on any tree. Candles should be kept on stable surfaces where kids and pets can’t knock them over, and should never be left unattended.

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If you have small children or pets, decorations involving holly berries, mistletoe, or even edible ornaments should be kept high enough so they can’t reach them. Also, something else to consider, chemical preservatives are sometimes used on Christmas trees to keep them fresh longer. But the chemicals can leach down into the water bowl at the bottom of the tree. So be sure to the keep the bowl covered so that your dog won’t lap up the water and possibly getting sick.