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Prepping Your Home for the Holidays Dec 9, 2016 9:00:00 PM | by Nadine Goldberg

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Protect your little ones from potential hazards

As we prepare for a wonderful holiday season and special family gatherings, it is important to remember that we need to protect our little ones from holiday dangers. Keep the following safety tips in mind to ensure that you and your family stay happy and healthy:

Carefully decorate your home.

Keep your tree secured in a sturdy stand so that it doesn't tip over and keep it away from all heat sources such as electrical outlets, radiators and portable space heaters. If you buy an artificial tree, make sure that it is labeled ‘fire-retardant’. Remember to unplug all lights, both indoor and outdoor, every night before you go to bed. Avoid using real candles on a tree because if the needles are dry, they can easily catch fire. If you do use real candles this holiday season, remember to always extinguish before leaving the room.

Tree ornaments, light bulbs, icicles, tinsel, and small toys are potential choking hazards for children. Keep a close eye on babies and toddlers — do not let them take items off the tree, especially if the objects are small enough to fit in their mouths. Keep breakable ornaments out of the reach of little hands. If an ornament breaks, clean up the broken glass quickly. Angel hair, made from finely spun glass, and ornament hangers may cause cuts, skin irritation or eye damage if touched or swallowed by children. Additionally, the needles of trees can cause painful cuts in the mouth and throat of a child who swallows them.

Holiday plants are beautiful, but did you know many of the common plants are considered potentially poisonous? These plants should stay out of children’s reach: mistletoe, holly, poinsettias and Jerusalem cherry plants. Possible symptoms of plant poisoning include rashes, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. If you suspect that your child has eaten any part of a plant, immediately call your doctor or the National Poison Center: (800) 222-1222.

Avoid fire hazards.

Always have fire safety in the back of your mind with the amount of lights and candles used around the holidays. Keep lit candles away from windowsills and mantles and use only flame-retardant decorations when decking your halls. Don't overload indoor or outdoor electrical outlets. Circuits that are overloaded with excessive lights, decorations and accessories can start a fire. Have your fireplace inspected by a certified chimney professional before you light your first fire of the season. You can also protect your family by using a sturdy fireplace screen when burning fires.

Practice fire safety. Make sure you have a family emergency plan in the event of a fire, and check smoke detectors before you put up your holiday decorations.

Stay aware of unsuspecting holiday treats and kitchen dangers.

Remarkably, alcohol poisoning is a common risk for children during the holiday season. Adults must remember to remove all empty and partially empty cups as soon as possible so little ones do not get their hands on them. Food poisoning is another potential holiday hazard. Practice food safety by washing hands, utensils, dishes and anything else that comes in contact with raw meat, including poultry and fish and raw eggs before and after use.

Common holiday foods such as peanuts or popcorn are potential choking hazards and should not be given to children under age 4. They should also be kept out of reach if out in the open.

When cooking, keep pot handles turned away from the front of the stove and always keep the oven door closed. To prevent accidents, watch your children while you bake or cook. In addition, kitchen appliances should be clean to prevent potential fires.

Read labels for hidden chemicals.

Check for lights containing ‘methylene chloride,’ which can be poisonous if a child drinks the fluid from more than one light — even if labeled ‘nontoxic.’ Additionally, snow sprays may be harmful if the aerosol propellants are used improperly.

Arrive safely.

Make sure that babies and children are always buckled up securely during car rides and never allow anyone to transport your child after drinking alcohol.  

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