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Simple safety tips to avoid holiday hazards

(Photo provided)

It’s the holiday season once again, and the perfect time to remind everyone of some simple things you can do to keep you and your children safe and sound.

¯ If you have a tree, secure it well to keep it from tipping. If it is a live tree, make sure it’s fresh, green, well watered, and that the needles are hard to pull off. The drier the tree, the more of a fire hazard it is, so keep it away from floor heaters, fireplaces or other heat sources. If it is an artificial tree, make sure it is fire resistant.

¯ Keep no more than three strands of lights linked together on an extension cord, and never use electric lights on a metal tree or you could be in for a shocking experience. Don’t forget to inspect those light strings each year for frayed cords, broken sockets or loose connections.

¯ Keep the small bulbs and ornaments as well as tinsel high up in the tree so smaller children don’t try to eat these things and choke. Small button batteries and tiny magnets can also be harmful if swallowed, so keep those away from younger children as well. Tinsel and other trimmings should be lead-free, so check the label when you are buying your decorations.

¯ If there are children in the home, avoid candles or at least keep them out of reach of small children. Turn off all lights and blow out all candles when you sleep or leave the house to avoid a potential fire hazard. And, of course, make sure your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detectors are working. If you have a chimney, make sure you have it cleaned every year.

¯ Most holiday plants are safe but remember that mistletoe and holly berries eaten in excess can be dangerous. If your child does snack on a holiday plant, you can call the Northern New England Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Lewis First, MD, is chief of pediatrics at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and NBC5.

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