Holiday Hazards – 7 Lurking Dangers

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December brings with it lots of holiday cheer, and shouts of Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays and even non-traditional holiday greetings (we’ll never forget George Costanza and Happy Festivus).
But in the middle of all the holiday joy, there are seven lurking hazards in your home. (There are more, but we needed a number for this short article, so we picked seven.) All kidding aside, please run through this list quickly, and make sure that your family is safe this holiday season.

 

Christmas Tree

Even if you have an artificial Christmas tree, it can be a hazard. Do you have little ones (or little pets) that are part of the holiday celebration? If so, make sure your tree is securely anchored to its base, and that it is “steady on its feet.” If it’s a large tree, and there are lots of children or pets running around, you could consider anchoring it at the top with a thin fishing line attached to the wall behind it.

 

Real Christmas Trees Catch Fire. We all know this. So let’s be careful and not leave lights on the tree turned on while we are asleep or away from the house. Remember to water your tree regularly. Don’t place your real tree near the fireplace or a space heater. Think of and plan for the worse, and then you will be able to be a kid again at Christmas while your own kids are safe.

 

Fireplace

Now is a good time to ask-
“Honey, when is the last time we had the chimney cleaned?”If it’s been more than a year, stop now, ask Siri to find a chimney sweep, and schedule a cleaning. While you are waiting for them to come out, you can check the glass doors to make sure there are no cracks, and look at the outside to make sure masonry is intact. And don’t forget to do the obvious- check the damper to make sure it is in working order. There are more fireplace safety tips here.

 

Lights

Lights on the tree should be checked to make sure they are in good working order. Get rid of questionable sockets, bulbs and even entire strings if necessary. Extension cords in the house should conform to proper UL standards. A new extension cord is cheap insurance. Here is an excellent safety sheet with more ideas about holiday lights safety.

Outside lights need the same attention. Weather is the enemy of electrical safety outside. So check those strings carefully before turning them on.

 

Candles

We love our holiday candles. But how many of us accidentally leave candles burning while we are away from home, or asleep at night. Let’s try hard this year to remember that fires started by candles are a major cause of holiday tragedy. December 23, 24 and Christmas Day are three of the top five days that candle-caused fires happen.

 

Plants

Plants are a safety hazard? Yes they are, especially around the holiday season. Poinsettias, mistletoe and holly are all poisonous to children and animals. Ask your mom- you put stuff in your mouth as a toddler that scared her to death. We all did. So let’s remember that and keep poisonous plants out of reach of littles this season.

 

Ice

This year has been proof-positive that ice can reach out and touch us in painful ways. Make sure you pick up sidewalk deicer and sand or grit, and use it liberally before company comes walking up your slippery steps. You can even use kitty litter. You don’t need a trip to the emergency room to spoil that anticipated family get-together.

 

Food

The holidays see more people in the emergency room for food poisoning than any other time of year. Learn these four food safety tips from the US Food And Drug Administration: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. We’ll focus on the most forgotten one: Chill. Don’t leave food out longer than two hours. Yes, we know, the football game is intense, and it’s easy to forget. So set a timer (“Siri, remind me to put away the food”).

 

BONUS

Here’s a final bonus one: check your smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.

 

Happy -and safe- Holidays to you all!