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The holidays are rapidly approaching and many a wide-eyed child will be bubbling with excitement as they anticipate the great and wondrous events of this Christmas season. Please observe these simple safety tips and enjoy a happy and safe holiday season.
- Nothing beats the smell of a fresh Christmas tree but few things are as dangerous as a dried-out tree sitting in your living room. Before you buy a Christmas tree examine the needles. Bend them between your fingers. They shouldn’t break. Tap the tree gently on a firm surface. If an excessive amount of needles fall to the ground, it’s too dry. Scotch pines tend to shed more needles than other types of Christmas trees.
- Store the tree outside until you are ready to decorate it.
- Make a fresh 1 inch cut on the trunk of the tree before placing it in the tree stand allowing it to absorb water.
- After you have placed your tree in a sturdy base, fill the reservoir with water and check the water level daily.
- Secure the tree so that it cannot be knocked over by pets or a small child. Many of the newer ‘wide base’ stands offer much more stability than the older stands.
- Don’t let the Christmas tree block the hall and door escape routes.
- Artificial trees should bear the label Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Artificial trees should be made of flame-resistant materials and lights should never be used on ‘old’ artificial trees with metal frames.
- Keep your Christmas tree away from floor heaters, fireplaces and other heat sources, as well as electrical outlets and electrical sources.
- Do not place lit candles near the tree and NEVER on the tree.
- Christmas lights/bulbs should not come in contact with needles or branches.
- Make sure your lights are (CSA) approved.
- Don’t use outdoor lights on an indoor Christmas tree.
- When decorating the tree, place breakable ornaments on the higher limbs. It will protect your children and pets as well as safeguard the breakables.
- Keep small ornaments and tinsel that can be swallowed out of reach of children and pets.
- Check all indoor and outdoor lights to make sure that all connections are tight and that the bulbs and cords are in good condition.
- Replace wiring, sockets, or plugs that are frayed, cracked or have loose connections.
- Never use lights that have an empty socket and replace burnt out bulbs with those recommended by the manufacturer.
- Lights should not touch combustible materials. When shopping for Christmas tree ornaments make sure they are flame resistant.
- Do not overload electrical outlets. Use more than one outlet or power bar if the wattage of your lights is more than the outlet can handle.
- Keep bubbling lights away from children. They contain a hazardous chemical that can cause irritation or chemical burns if the bulb breaks and the chemical is released.
- Never leave lights on for extended periods of time, and NEVER leave the lights on when leaving your home or when retiring to bed.
- Finally, safely dispose of your tree before it becomes dangerously dry. In many areas, waste management recycling programs pick-up Christmas tree after New Years.
- Do not burn wrappings or evergreen boughs. These can burn extremely fast, throwing off sparks and burning debris.
- Before starting a fire, make sure you remove all decorations near the vicinity and ensure that the fireplace flue is open. Proper ventilation reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
DECORATING THE HOUSE
The Christmas season is one of the merriest times of the year, but it can also be one of the deadliest because of the hazards improper Christmas decorating can bring. By avoiding those hazards and paying close attention to safety tips for holidays, you will make the holidays happy and safe for you and your family.
- Beware of toxic holiday decorations. Mistletoe, holly berries, amaryllis, azalea, boxwood, Christmas rose, crown of thorns, English ivy and Jerusalem cherry are poisonous if swallowed. Old tinsel may contain lead.
- Wait for natural snow to hit your windows – artificial snow sprays can cause lung irritation if inhaled.
- Place decorations that are breakable or have small parts out of reach of small children.
- Lit candles are a fire and burn hazard. Cut candle wicks short to prevent a highLit candles should be placed in a safe location out of reach of small children and should never be left unattended.
- Christmas novelties are not toys, even if they resemble them, and they do not have to comply with toy safety regulations. Give careful thought to where you display them.
- Ensure that the garlands, wreaths and other decorations are out of reach of young children.
- If you are decorating with balloons, be aware that broken balloons pose a serious choking hazard to little children.
CHOOSING SAFE GIFTS FOR CHILDREN
- Select Christmas gifts that are suitable for the child’s age and abilities, and from reputable sources that comply with standards.
- Look for the manufacturer’s age recommendations on the package.
- Make sure batteries in toys are properly installed and not accessible to the child. Do not let children take battery-operated toys to bed.
- If you are buying a gift for someone’s child don’t hesitate to ask the parents for suggestions.
- Remember that very young children put things in their mouths. Check toys carefully for small parts that can be pulled or broken off, i.e. the eyes on stuffed toys or the wheels on toy cars.
- Toys with string or cord attachments longer than seven inches pose a strangle hazard.
- Check all toys for sharp points or edges.
- Stay away from loud toys. You will save your sanity and protect your child’s hearing.
- Follow the manufacturer’s directions closely for correct toy assembly and usage. Teach the child how to use the toy properly.
- Ensure that older children have adequate adult supervision with toys that may pose a safety hazard if used incorrectly, i.e. chemistry sets or wood burning kits.
- The usage of batteries in toys should be monitored for the following potential dangers:
- – incorrectly installed batteries with wrong ends in contacts may overheat and explode;
- – old batteries may leak and the chemicals can cause burns; and
- – small ‘button’ batteries can be swallowed and can cause choking and poisoning.
- Keep broken toys out of reach of children until they can be repaired.
- Discard toys that cannot be repaired.
- If you’re giving sports equipment, include protective gear like helmets or reflective clothing as part of the gift.
- Plug-in electric toys should be labelled by a fire safety-testing agency. Don’t buy highly combustible toys that use flammable liquids.
- Keep combustible materials away from all heat sources.
- Discard wrapping materials promptly.
- Plastic bags can lead to suffocation.
- Small packing styrofoam pellets and ties can be a choking hazard for little children.
ENTERTAINING DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Holiday gatherings bring friends and family together, however, hosts and guests who are not accustomed to having little children around may need to be reminded to keep dangerous items out of reach:
- Nuts, candy canes, mints, popcorn, and small snack foods can cause choking.
- Hot drinks are a frequent cause of scalding burns.
- Purses are enticing to young children, but may contain such dangerous items as medications, lighters, and sharp objects.
- Leftover food and drinks should be cleaned up promptly after entertaining so they are not accessible to little early-risers!
- Ask smokers to smoke outside. Remind smokers to keep their smoking materials with them so young children do not touch them.Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers and wet cigarette butts with water before discarding.