Home & Garden

Dangers in decorating for the holidays

BOISE -- Amid the bustle of family and friends, decorations and special holiday goodies, parents need to stay alert to potential hazards in their homes and those they visit with their children.

Keep your family safe during the holidays with these tips from Safe Kids Treasure Valley led by St. Luke's Children's Hospital and the American Academy of Pediatrics:

TREES

-- Look for the label "Fire Resistant" on artificial trees.

-- If you buy a live tree, make sure the needles are hard to pull from branches and do not break.

-- Place your tree away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters, and out of the way of traffic and doorways.

-- Keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can rapidly dry our real trees.

LIGHTS

-- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree -- a faulty light can electrify the whole thing.

-- Check all tree lights -- even if they're new -- before hanging them on your tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.

-- Avoid using more than three sets of lights on a single extension cord and don't overload electrical outlets.

-- Before using lights outdoors, make sure they are certified for outdoor use. Use hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks, and never pull or tug lights to remove them.

-- Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house.

DECORATIONS

-- Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree.

-- Never use lit candles on a tree or near evergreens.

-- Candles should never be left unattended, placed in an area where they can be easily knocked over or near flammable curtains or decorations. And keep matches and lighters locked out of reach.

-- In homes with small children, avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, and keep trimmings with small removable parts out of reach.

-- Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them. It's a good idea to avoid edible decorations, including popcorn chains and candy canes, because younger children may think all decorations are edible.

-- Artificial snow and flocking materials are not edible; avoid them if there are young children in the home.

-- Holly berries, mistletoe berries, poinsettias, amaryllis, boxwood, Christmas rose, Crown of Thorns, English ivy and Jerusalem cherry all are potentially harmful if eaten.

-- Remove all paper, bags, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened, to avoid choking and fire hazards.

FOOD SAFETY

-- Avoid displaying hard candy or nuts in candy dishes, where toddlers can get to them.

-- If you are a guest for a meal and your child has food allergies, ask ahead of time whether they will be serving that food.

-- Keep alcohol (including baking extracts) out of reach and do not leave alcoholic drinks unattended.

-- Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.

FIREPLACES

-- Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.

-- Do not burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood or wrapping paper in a home fireplace.

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