Friday, December 14, 2012

Safe for the Holidays

Every holiday season, fires kill more than 400 Americans, injure 1,650 more, and cause approximately $990 million in damage. Although fires top the list of holiday hazards, there are plenty of other dangers during this time of year. What have you done to make yourself and your family safe for the holiday season? Use these safety checklists to ensure that everyone is able to ring in the new year, safe and sound.

What's wrong with this?
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For your home: 
As stated, your biggest concern should be fireproofing your home. Ideally, fire safety should be a priority year-round, but the opportunities for disaster multiply when Christmas trees, rogue holiday lights, candles, and extravagant cooking is involved. Don’t take any chances, follow these prevention tips from

  1. If you prefer an artificial tree, check to make sure that it is flame-resistant. Flame-resistance doesn't mean a tree can't or won't catch on fire, but it will help slow down the process and buy you time to get a fire under control.
  2.  If you have a real tree, water it daily. A well-watered tree is much less flammable than a dry one.
  3. Place your tree at least three feet away from any sources of heat, including the open flames from a fireplace or even a candle.
  4. Also, don’t put your tree in an area that would obstruct an exit in the case of an emergency. Safety first!
  5. Don’t use an electric decoration that is noticeably damaged! If it is cracked, frayed, or you can see the internal wiring, throw it away. Replace the item, if possible. 
  6. When buying a string of lights or similar decorations, check to see if the product has the “UL” mark, signifying that it’s been tested and meets the highest safety standards.
  7. Keep in mind that there are decorating ideas that don’t even use electric energy. These decorations are a safer and less expensive alternative.
  8. As always, check the batteries in your smoke detectors and review your escape plan with all members of the household. It may seem like a silly drill, but it could prevent life-threatening panic during a fire.
  9. Consider getting carbon monoxide alarms, too. It could save your family from a “silent killer.”
  10. Lastly, remember to consider the threat that a slippery, snow and ice-covered walkway presents to elderly people who may be celebrating the holiday at your home. Salt the walkway to prevent a disastrous fall.

S Holiday Pet Safety Tips
This may look cute, but it's dangerous.
(image from
What family would be complete without beloved pets? Specific holiday pet safety tips, like these suggested by the ASPCA, should also be on your checklist! 
  1. Christmas trees present a variety of dangers to the household pet. First, make sure that your tree is properly secured and won’t fall on top of an overly-curious furry friend.
  2. A secure tree should also prevent any of the tree-water from spilling. This mixture, a likely concoction of fertilizers and bacteria, would give your pet an upset stomach and diarrhea.
  3. Beware of tinsel. Sure, it’s cute to see the cat play with the shiny pieces like yarn, but there is a risk of ingestion. This could cause vomiting or an obstructed digestive tract, and may require surgery all of which are not cute.
  4. Keep your festive food away from pets and off of the floor. Chocolate and bones pose a particularly high danger upon ingestion. Cover the trashcan, and warn guests to be mindful of that danger.
  5. Even guests who are aware of checklist tip #4 might think it’s okay to give pets table scraps. Remind them that the pets are not allowed to eat human food, and offer to give guests pet-appropriate treats to share. Keep pets’ eating and exercise habits as close to normal in order to avoid holiday weight-gain (Yes, pets are subject to it, too!)
  6. Poinsettia and cats will it kill him? Actually, this is a myth. There are not enough toxins in the plant to kill your pets. However, this does not mean it is a healthy snack. Eating a poinsettia may cause an upset stomach or vomiting, so it’s best to keep this festive holiday plant where your pet cannot reach it.
  7. Holly and mistletoe pose the same mild threat. If you are hanging mistletoe, make sure it is secure and won’t fall into Fido’s lap.
  8. If you are leaving the room, you already know to extinguish any candlelight, right? A hovering tail over an unattended flame could pose a seriously painful threat to your pet. 
  9. Just as with the holiday food, make sure that adult beverages are out of reach from pets. Weakness, coma, and death by respiratory failure can all be tragic results from a pet’s ingestion of alcohol.
  10. Have a safe place for your pet to go if you are having guests. If the party gets a little too loud or busy, your pet might appreciate a space of his own.This will also prevent an accidental escape by the unknowing guest who forgot to close the door behind her.

by Amanda Gilmore
Contributing Writer 

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