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Holiday Safety Tips

It is important during this holiday season to remember important safety recommendations. Here are some tips for making your home safe during the holidays: 

Christmas Trees 
Christmas trees can be a major fire hazard. We all have a responsibility to take precautions to prevent fires in our neighborhoods and communities. Here are a few basic ideas to keep your natural tree fresh and healthy, and to protect your family:

-Make sure the water level on the tree never drops below the bottom of the tree.

-Make sure your tree is securely fastened to the stand so it cannot be easily tipped over.

-Keep your tree away from heat sources such as a space heater or fireplace. Be sure the tree is also placed away from burning candles.

-Keep a fire extinguisher in a clearly visible place.

-Avoid placing your tree in high traffic areas or exits.

-If you choose to have an artificial tree, make sure it is fire retardant.

-Discard the tree as soon as it shows signs of drying out.

Decorations
-We recommend you not use tinsel. It is easy for children to swallow and can get wound around a small child's fingers, cutting off circulation.

-Glass ornaments should be placed high on the tree.

-Smaller ornaments should also be out of reach of children.

-Place non-breakable ornaments, ones without sequins or beads, on the lower branches. Tie them on with ribbon or string instead of hooks.

-Some plants such as mistletoe (and its berries), holly, and poinsettias, can also be toxic. Keep them away from babies and small children.

-Avoid using spray-on snow, which may give off harmful fumes.

-Put wrapping paper in the garbage immediately after opening presents. Dyes that are present in the paper can be toxic for small children, who may chew on the pieces of wrapping paper.

-Heavy stocking holders can be pulled down onto a child's head. Keep stockings up high, or use plastic hooks to hold them in place.

Lights
-Check for loose connections, frayed ends, bad electrical sockets and plugs, or other damaged wiring. Replace lights with any of these problems.

-Don't put more than three strands end to end--this can cause circuits to burn out.
Turn lights off when you go to bed.

-Small, new lights are safer than the older, larger bulb style that generate more heat and dry out your tree faster.

Toys
-As you finish up your Christmas shopping for the children on your list, pay attention to the details that may make a toy dangerous for children to play with.

-"Think big" when choosing toys. Avoid small parts that could be a choking hazard.

-Look for stuffed animals with eyes, noses, or other decorations that are securely sewn on.

-Most toys have an age recommendation on the label. Suggest that gift-givers look for the appropriate age level for your child.

Other Considerations
-Be sure to check batteries in the smoke detectors throughout your home.

-Keep a fire extinguisher in an accessible place such as the kitchen, the room where the Christmas tree will be standing, or near a fireplace.

-Be sure to lock your home when you are away. The holiday season is a common time when homes are broken into.

-Keep a first aid kit handy in case there are any accidents. Also include Burnfree dressings and gel.

-Be sure to have an emergency car kit in your car while traveling to and from friends and family.

-Keep your emergency kit near a main exit in your home.

-Have a family evacuation plan in place, in case of fire or other emergency.

Being prepared is a valuable gift you can give your family this holiday season. We hope these tips will help make your home peaceful and safe for everyone. Remember to use common sense and think ahead for possible dangers that are unique to your family. There is always something you can do to make your home better prepared and safer for the holidays.

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This article is sponsored by Emergency Essentials. It originally ran December 20, 2011.
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