Christmas is a very magical time of the year. The lights, decorations and treats for the young and young at heart. However there are many hazards that lurk beneath the merriment. Here is a checklist of hazards to keep in mind while planning and carrying out your festivities.
Safer Trees and Decorations
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” Although this label does not mean the tree won’t catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
- When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
- Use only noncombustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
- Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
- Take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable.
Bright Ideas for Lights
- Indoors or outside, always use lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory that indicates conformance with safety standards.
- Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets.
- Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
- Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage.
- Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
- Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully. If the toy is appropriate for your child, show him how to use it properly.
- Follow recommended age ranges on toy packages. Toys that are too advanced could pose a safety hazard for younger children.
- To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don’t give young children (under age ten) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
- Children under age three can choke on small parts contained in toys or games.
- Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on un-inflated or broken balloons. Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
- Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
- Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
- Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots.
- Keep a laminated list with all of the important phone numbers you or a baby-sitter are likely to need in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department and your pediatrician.
Information courtesy of Reader’s Digest (http://www.rd.com)