The holidays bring family and friends together to enjoy good times. We can ensure that the season remains bright by putting safety first. I hope you find the following suggestions for safety useful in your holiday planning.

Christmas tree and candle safety When buying a tree, look for a fresh one where you can see the resin on the trunk and the needles don't break when you bend them. For better water absorption, cut off the bottom two inches of the trunk before putting it into a sturdy tree stand. Keep your tree in good condition by filling the stand with water. Make sure the tree is placed out of the path of traffic and doesn't block doorways. Place the tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources to prevent the tree from drying out and creating a fire hazard. Look for the :"Fire Resistant" label if you buy an artificial tree, so the tree will resist burning and extinguish quickly.

Lighted candles, including ones used in menorahs for Hanukkah and kinaras for Kwanzaa are also holiday favorites. Use them safely. Never put lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use nonflammable holders. Keep candles away from other decorations, wrapping paper, drapes and other flammable material. Extinguish candles before leaving home or going to sleep. Make sure you use a sturdy, fire-safe menorah or kinara. Place menorahs or kinaras on a steady table, making sure nothing is too close to the candles' flame. Check candles often to make sure they haven't burned down too low. Keep matches and lighters away from children.

Holiday decorations and lights To keep the holidays bright, test lights, look for noncombustible tree trimmings, wear gloves when using spun glass decorations known as angel hair and read directions when decorating with artificial snow sprays.

Reduce hazards by checking each set flights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed and bare wires or loose connections and throwing out damaged sets. Limit three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. Faulty lights will charge the tree and can electrocute a person touching a branch. Make sure outside lights have been certified for outdoor use. Fasten outdoor lights securely, using only insulated staples to hold strings in place. Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house.

We can reduce the number of holiday accidents if we keep these commonsense tips in mind.

I wish all of you a wonderful and safe holiday season.