Jamie Schaefer-Wilson is the Executive Director of The Safety Institute.
Before you deck the halls this holiday season, take a moment to ensure you are celebrating safely.
- Before using your holiday lights, inspect them carefully looking for loose connections, frayed or bare wires, and broken or cracked sockets. On most holiday lights available at retailers, lights with holographic green UL labels are for indoor use only, while those with holographic red UL labels can be used both in and outdoors.
- Never throw wrapping paper into the fire. Fires started with wrapping paper can ignite suddenly, burn rapidly and intensely, and create a bigger fire.
- A dry Christmas tree can be a potential fire hazard. Add water to your tree every day and keep it away from heat sources such as fireplaces or room heaters.
- Be careful and follow instructions when using artificial snow spray on windows or other surfaces. These sprays can irritate lungs if inhaled.
- Don’t let your child touch holiday lights. In many cases, electrical cords contain lead, which can rub off on your hands and shouldn’t be handled by children. You should also wash your own hands thoroughly after you handle your light sets. Additionally, don’t overload electrical outlets or run extension cords under carpets, across doorways, or near heaters.
- Use precaution with candles. Keep candles, matches and lighters out of your child’s reach. Place them in a non-flammable holder at least a foot away from other materials. Never leave a burning candle unattended.
- Check all toys for age appropriateness. Don’t let your toddler play with toys he receives as gifts unless you are sure they are age appropriate. Check them to confirm there aren’t any small parts or pieces that can separate and become a choking hazard.
For more information on holiday safety, recalls, safety alerts, and to answers for more of your safety questions visit the National Youth and Consumer Safety Council at www.thesafetycouncil.org