67 Tips to Keep You and Your Family Safe this Holiday Season

December 14, 2016
Posted: Xpert Team
Categories: Blog

Woman and baby with Christmas lights

The holidays are around the corner and Xpert Home Services wishes you a very happy holiday and provides the tips below to keep you friends and family safe for all your celebrations. 

Decorating

  • Use non-combustible or flame-resistant decorations for your tree.
  • Select tinsel or artificial icicles made of plastic or non-leaded metals.
  • Never use lit candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Place candles where they will not be knocked over.
  • If small children will be around, avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Avoid trimmings that look like candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.
  • Wear gloves while decorating with spun glass “angel hair” to avoid eye and skin irritation. Follow directions for artificial snow sprays to avoid lung irritation.
  • Discard all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. The items can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child or can cause a fire if near flame.
  • Do not burn wrapping paper in the fireplace.
  • Keep poisonous holiday plants, like mistletoe berries, Jerusalem cherry, and holly berry, away from pets and children.

Artificial Trees

  • When buying an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant”.
  • Trees with built-in lights should have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label.

 

Live Trees

  • Make sure your tree is fresh. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and needles do not break when bent between your fingers. The cut end is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
  • Always place your tree away from fireplaces, radiators, traffic areas, doorway or portable heaters.
  • Cut a few inches off the bottom of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This will allow better water absorption and will help keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms will dry live trees out rapidly.  

Lights

  • Check all tree lights–even new ones–before hanging them on your tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Only use lights outdoors that have been certified for outdoor use.
  • To secure lights, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them. Never nail, tack or stress wiring when hanging lights and keep plugs off the ground away from puddles and snow.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. Lights can short out and start a fire.
  • Lights and candles are fire hazards. If you use electric lights, look for frayed or exposed wires, and make sure no wires are pinched by furniture and no cords run under rugs.
  • Don’t use the same extension cord for more than three strands of lights or other decorations.
  • When lighting candles, remove flammable materials from the area and never leave a burning candle unattended even when just leaving the room.

Cooking

  • Wash your hands frequently, and make sure children do the same.
  • Fully cook meats and poultry as bacteria are often present in raw foods and thoroughly wash raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Always keep raw foods and cooked foods separate, and use separate utensils when preparing them.
  • Keep hot liquids and food away from the edges of counters and tables, where they can be easily knocked over by a young child or pet.
  • Never put a spoon used to taste food back into any food without washing it.
  • Always thaw meat in the refrigerator, microwave or in cold water, never on the countertop.
  • Foods that require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours. 
  • Always keep your knives sharp as most knife injuries occur due to dull blades.
  • Don’t use generators, grills, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning devices inside your home or garage.
  • Install a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector in your home. Test them once a month, and replace batteries twice a year.
  • Beware the turkey fryer! Splattered hot oil can easily start a serious house fire or burn anyone nearby. Be aware the oil itself can overheat and catch fire.  Keep all pets and children away from the fryer. Don’t overfill a fryer with oil (leave enough room to avoid spills when you add the turkey); never put a frozen turkey directly in hot oil.

Fireplaces

  • Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, papers, flammable materials and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
  • Be careful with “fire salts,” used to produce colored flames when placed on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from pets and children.
  • Do not burn gift wrap paper in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
  • Keep children and others well away from the fireplace and use a screen or gate. Glass doors can get hot enough to cause serious burns and stay hot long after the fire is out.

Travel

  • Always make sure your child rides in an age appropriate car safety seat.
  • In cold weather, children in car safety seats should wear thin layers with a blanket over the top of the harness straps if needed, not a thick coat or snowsuit.
  • Adults must buckle up too, and drivers should never be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Traveling, visiting family members, getting presents, shopping, etc., can all increase your child’s stress levels. Try to stick to your child’s usual routines, including sleep schedule and timing of naps, to help you and your child enjoy the holidays and reduce stress.
  • Being a smart party host or guest includes being sensible about alcoholic drinks. Offer guests non-alcoholic alternatives as well. 
  • More than half of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related. Use designated drivers and have telephone number for cabs to drive other guests home after a holiday party.
  • Prepare your car for travel by checking the brakes, spark plugs, battery, and tires. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended interval for a tune-up.
  • Keep an emergency “survival kit” in your vehicle with items such as, a working flashlight, extra batteries, reflective triangles, compass, first aid kit, exterior windshield cleaner, ice scraper, snow brush, wooden stick matches in a waterproof container, blankets and non-perishable, high energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits, and hard candy.

Pets

  • Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall.
  • Prevent your pet from access to the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria, and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea.
  • Keep poisonous plants from pets; Holly, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Lilies can cause kidney failure in cats.
  • Keep tinsel away from pets.  Kitties love to bat and carry tinsel in their mouths. A nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery.
  • Gifts for dogs should be indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible. Avoid gifts for cats with long, stringy things like ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery.
  • As you count down to the New Year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat’s intestines, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and many pets are also scared of fireworks, so be sure to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as midnight approaches.

Kids

  • Select age appropriate toys. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.
  • Children under age 10 should only be given battery operated toys to prevent potential burns and electrical shocks from plugging into an electrical outlet.
  • Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
  • Keep button batteries and magnets away from Children. Serious stomach and intestinal problems – even death can occur after swallowing button batteries or magnets. Button batteries are often found in toys, musical greeting cards, remote controls, hearing aids, and other small electronics. Small, powerful magnets are present in many homes as part of building toy sets.
  • Children can choke or suffocate on deflated or broken balloons; do not allow children under age 8 to play with them. 
  • Remove tags, strings, and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
  • Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
  • Parents should store toys in a designated location and keep older kids’ toys away from young children. Use a toy box with no lid or a lightweight, non-locking lid and ventilation holes.

Space Heaters

  • Avoid using space heaters. Space heater are involved in 79% of fatal home heating fires. If space heaters are in use, keep a 3-foot open zone – make sure they are not close to curtains, blankets or other potentially flammable materials.  Always turn off and unplug when unattended.

Ladders

  • Always use the proper step stool or ladder to reach high places. Don’t stand on chairs, desks or other furniture. If you have to use a step ladder near a doorway, lock or barricade the door and post signs so no one will open it and knock you off the ladder.
  • A straight or extension ladder should be placed one foot away from the surface it rests against for every four feet of ladder height.
  • When you climb, always face the ladder and grip the rungs to climb – not the side rails. Always keep three points of contact on the ladder whether two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand.
  • When climbing, keep your hips between the side rails and do not lean too far or overreach. Re-position the ladder closer to the work instead.
  • Use ladders with slip-resistant feet and wear clean, dry and slip-resistant shoes when climbing a ladder.
  • When using ladders outdoors, get down immediately if high winds, rain, snow or other inclement weather begins. Winds can blow you off the ladder and rain or snow can make both the rungs and the ground slippery.

Stay safe over the holidays! If you need help decorating (or removing decorations) or any last minute maintenance or home improvements before or after the holidays, Xpert Home Services is here to help.  Call 252-226-9742 today.