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Stay Safe This Season
The holidays are full of cheer, but they also can be full of danger. While you are celebrating, follow these tips to stay safe:
Candles. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, December is the top time for home candle fires. If you use candles in your holiday decorating, take care to avoid becoming part of that statistic. Never leave lit candles unattended, and make sure they are fully out before you leave the room. Don’t place candles near flammable materials such as fabrics or paper. Keep candles well out of the reach of children and pets. Or better yet, use battery-operated flameless candles.
Christmas trees. If you have a real Christmas tree, don’t set it up near a heat source. Make sure to water it regularly, and dispose of it when it becomes dry and starts to drop needles. Don’t leave lights plugged in when you are not in the room, whether you have a real tree or an artificial one.
Outside walkways and steps. Keep your outside walkways and steps clear of snow, ice or other debris. You probably will be having more visitors than usual, so be especially careful to remove any hazards.
Pets. If you have pets, be aware that all the activities and visitors can make them uncomfortable or frightened. They might try to run away, especially if the door is open to admit visitors, or they might become more aggressive than usual. Monitor your pets closely around company, or keep them in another area of your house. Also, be aware that some common holiday decorations -- such as holly, mistletoe and tinsel -- can be dangerous to pets.
Holiday travel. Unoccupied houses filled with gifts can be very tempting to burglars. If you are traveling around the holidays, take precautions such as putting your lights on a timer, stopping your mail and newspaper delivery, and asking a neighbor to check in from time to time. Don’t post information about your travels – or your gifts – on social networking sites such as Facebook.
Food safety. Avoid food poisoning by cooking foods thoroughly and refrigerating them promptly. If you are fond of eggnog, remember that raw eggs can carry salmonella.
Toys. When you shop for the little ones on your list, choose toys that are age-appropriate and meet safety standards. Buying a child a toy that is too advanced can be dangerous as well as frustrating. If you are not sure, check with the child’s parents or give a gift card.
Fireplaces. A roaring fire is a mainstay of holiday celebrations. But get your fireplace and chimney checked before you light the first fire of the season. And never go to bed or leave the house unless you are absolutely certain that the fire is completely out.
Driving. Winter driving can be dangerous under any circumstances, so exercise special caution. Never drive when you have been drinking or when you are overly tired. And if the weather outside is truly frightful, stay where you are.