First With Kids: Let it Snow – Safely!

holiday hazards

 (sung to the tune of “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!)

Oh tis’ that special season
When I hope you’ll have good reason
To decorate with safety in mind
When it gets to be holiday time!

Yes – it’s the holidays and what better gift can I share than a few reminders to make this the healthiest and safest of holiday seasons:

Safety and Your Christmas Tree

First if you have a tree, secure it well to keep it from tipping and keep it away from floor heaters, fireplaces or other heat sources. Make sure it has water every day to prevent it from drying out and increasing its risk of becoming a fire hazard.

Inspect your light strands and replace any that appear damaged with wires that appear frayed, broken sockets for bulbs or excessive kinking or wear in the cords.

Keep no more than 3 strands of lights linked together and keep the small bulbs and ornaments high up in the tree so smaller children don’t try to eat them and choke. If you have an artificial tree, make sure it is fire resistant.  Never use electric lights on a metallic tree or a person touching a branch will be in for a shocking experience.

Take Preventive Steps For Fire Safety

If there are children in the home, avoid candles or at least keep them out of reach of small children and do not put candles on trees whether or not children are present. December is the month with the most candle house fires.

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 detectors and fire extinguishers are working.

No Nibbling Holiday Plants

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 always call the NE Regional Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Monitor Grown Up Hazards

If you are hosting a party in your home, don’t forget to clean up the night of the party so your child doesn’t discover alcoholic beverages or small snack foods left out that can be choking hazards the morning after.

To wrap up…

(sung to the tune of “O’ Little Town of Bethlehem”)

As you decorate your homes
Safety hazards you will rid
This is pediatrician Dr. Lewis First
Hoping you’ll be first with kids!

Lewis First, MD, is chief of pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. 

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