HEALTH FEATURE ARCHIVE
Deck the halls...safely
- Place Christmas trees and other greenery away from fireplaces and radiators. Keep tree stands filled with water-dried out Christmas trees are a fire hazard.
- Check each set of tree lights for frayed wires, broken bulbs, and loose connections. Throw away damaged sets. Never string more than three sets of lights on an extension cord, and never run cords or strings of lights behind drapes or under carpets. Turn lights off when you go to bed or leave the house.
- Place lit menorahs and other candles away from decorations and drapes. Place candles out of children's reach and where pets can't knock them over. Blow out all candles before going to bed or leaving the house.
- If you have small children, avoid sharp or breakable decorations. Keep tinsel and other small trimmings out of children's reach. Avoid using decorations that look like candy or food-they may tempt a child to eat them.
- Use caution when decorating with spun-glass "angel hair" or "bubble lights." They can cause injury if they are swallowed. Only use spray snow that's labeled nontoxic.
- Keep holiday plants away from children and pets. Mistletoe, holly berries, and Christmas cactus are poisonous if swallowed. Poinsettias can cause stomach irritation in humans, and they can make pets very sick.
Many injuries occur to both adults and children on shopping trips. Each year:
Shop 'til you drop
- Help keep your children safe while shopping.
- Teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated.
- Keep children under age 4 in a stroller or supervise them closely.
- If you place your child in a shopping cart, always use the safety belt. Stay close to the cart. Never let your child stand in or push a shopping cart.
- Don't be an easy victim for violent crime.
- Stay alert at all times and pay attention to your surroundings.
- Park in a well-lit space away from decorative bushes. Lock your car, roll up the windows, and hide packages in the trunk or under a blanket. Be especially alert in parking decks and underground garages.
- Don't overload yourself with packages.
- Have your car keys in hand before heading to the parking lot.
- Be careful when riding on escalators.
- Make sure no one in your group has loose shoe laces, drawstrings, scarves, or mittens that could get trapped in the escalator.
- Hold your child's hand, face forward, and keep feet away from the edge of the steps.
- Never bring strollers, carts, or walkers on an escalator.
- Where possible, cross the street at designated crosswalks. Before you step off the curb, make sure approaching vehicles have come to a complete stop.
Source: The tips listed above - provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, National SAFE KIDS Campaign, and other safety organizations-can help you and your family have a safe holiday season. CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Last Editorial Review: 11/15/2000