Are holiday decorations safe?

Are holiday decorations safe?
This is the time of year that most Americans start decorating for the holiday season.   Although we all love the decorations associated with the holidays, they do not come without some risks, especially for children.

Here are some things to keep in mind to keep the holiday season safe.

  • If you have a real tree, be sure to keep it watered to avoid over drying, which can increase the risk of tree fires, which can be quite devastating.  Also keep any tree at least 3 feet from any heat source like a fireplace or radiator.
  • Keep any decorations that include small objects or removable pieces (especially things that might look like candy) high enough that children can’t reach them.  A nativity scene is a great example.  Baby Jesus is sometimes just the right size to cause a choking hazard!
  • Also keep in mind that children might try to climb onto furniture in order to get to an especially enticing decoration.  Make sure that furniture is bolted to the wall if it has any chance of falling over onto a child who might try to climb onto it.
  • While holiday plants can be beautiful, they can also be very toxic to both children and pets.  This includes Mistletoe, holly berry, poinsettia, and Jerusalem cherry.  Consider an alternative.
  • When trimming the tree or wrapping (or unwrapping) presents, be sure to gather up any pieces or torn wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, tinsel, or other small items and dispose of them appropriately.  These things not only pose a choking hazard for small children and pets, but they are also a fire risk if near the tree or the fireplace.
  • Always choose nonflammable or flame resistant decorations.
  • If you are using tinsel or artificial icicles, make sure that they are made of plastic and do not contain lead.
  • Never light candles on or near a Christmas tree or other greenery.  Do not leave candles unattended or in an area where they may be knocked over.  Consider using artificial candles.
  • Protect your lungs, eyes, and skin when using any potentially irritating chemicals.   Artificial snow spray, for instance, can cause significant lung irritation if inhaled.
  • Inspect any light strands prior to using them to be sure there are no exposed wires or cracks in the casing that might pose a fire hazard.  Read the directions with each light strand regarding how many strands can be safely strung end to end.  Maybe choose LED lights over traditional because they do not release the heat of a traditional light.
  • Never overload electrical outlets.  Buy lights and extension cords from trusted retailers and reputable brands.  Always unplug decorations before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Be careful if using vintage decorations, which may contain asbestos or lead, as they were made before we knew of their potential dangers.
  • Also remember some general safety advice you learned from your parents – Use caution when climbing ladders, and keep breakable or sharp objects completely out of children’s reach.

By taking some simple precautions, you can ensure this holiday season will be a safe and enjoyable one.

Happy Holidays!

If you have any more questions just Ask Hanna, our health advisors are here to help.

Dr. Anita Bennett MD – Health Tip Content Editor
Image: ©Shutterstock / New Africa

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