WESTON, Conn. - The holiday season is a festive time - filled with decorations, gifts and fun for people of all ages. However, the very things that help brighten the holidays can also pose a threat, especially to children, if not used properly.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 10,000 Americans are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year as a result of injuries related to holiday decorating.
Additionally, there are more than 14,000 candle-related fires nationwide each year, resulting in about 170 deaths and $350 million in property damage. Christmas trees also are involved in approximately 200 fires each year, resulting in about 10 deaths and $10 million in property loss.
Fortunately, these and other injuries can usually be avoided by taking a few standard precautions.
- Do not put ornaments that have small parts or metal hooks, or look like food or candy, on lower branches of a tree where small children can reach them. Trim all protruding branches that are at, or below, a child’s eye level, and keep holiday lights out of their reach.
- Inspect all holiday lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections and broken sockets. Do not overload extension cords or outlets, and do not run electrical cords under rugs.
- Live Christmas trees always involve some risk of fire. To minimize the risk, get a fresh tree and keep it watered at all times. Do not put the tree near heat sources, such as candles, fireplaces or heat vents.
- Keep decorations and other items with sharp edges out of reach.
- Never leave a decorative light display unattended. Turn off displays and extinguish candles when you leave the room.
- Make sure all smoke alarms have batteries and are working. Develop a home fire escape plan for your family, with two ways out of each room.
- Never allow infants and toddlers to play with toys that have small parts, which could be choking hazards.
- Do not burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood or wrapping paper in a home fireplace.
- Holly berries, mistletoe berries, poinsettias, amaryllis, boxwood, Christmas rose, Crown of Thorns, English ivy and Jerusalem cherry are all potentially harmful if eaten.
- During holiday travel, make sure everyone in the vehicle uses a safety belt or child safety seat. Make sure child safety seats are appropriate for the child’s height and weight and are used properly.