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Thanksgiving came and went and the countdown to Christmas is on with less than a month to go. While we all prepare our homes, vehicles and host get-togethers for our loved ones, there are some holiday safety tips you should keep in mind.

Holiday Safety – Christmas Decorating

Keep candle flames away from flammable items including trees, curtains and furniture.

If you are decorating with artificial snow on windows and doors, it’s important to follow the directions as this product has the potential to irritate your lungs if inhaled.

Wear gloves when decorating with “spun glass,” as this product can irritate your skin and eyes. Non-flammable cotton can be used as a safer alternative.

Plants should be kept out of reach of small children as some are poisonous and can cause severe stomach problems. These plants include: amaryllis, Jerusalem cherry, holly berries and mistletoe.

If you have a real tree, it is important to keep the stand filled with water to avoid it drying out which can pose a fire hazard. Trees should also be kept away from heat sources such as fireplaces.

If you have a fake tree, make sure it is tested and labeled as fire resistant. If the tree has a built-in electrical system, make sure it has an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label.

Lights should be used as labeled – indoor lights used indoors and outdoor lights used only outdoors. Use no more than three sets of lights per extension cord. Lights should be turned off before leaving the house or going to bed.

When decorating always use a proper step stool or ladder. Chairs and other furniture can pose a fall hazard. An estimated 5,800 people will be treated in emergency room departments for fall related injuries that occur while decorating.

Holiday Safety – Toy Shopping

Pick toys that are age appropriate to suit the age of the child. Toys that are too advanced may pose a safety hazard to ayoung child. And toys that contain small parts can pose a choking hazard.

For children ten or younger try to stick to battery operated toys to prevent burns and electrical shocks if the toy must be plugged into an outlet.

Holiday Safety – Hosting & Food Safety

An estimated 76 million people become sick with a foodborne illness each year. As such, while preparing food, the single most important thing you can do is to wash your hands, utensils and surrounding area that comes into contact with poultry items. Cleaning up with paper towels is optimal as dishcloths and sponges can harbor bacteria.

Use a food thermometer to ensure foods are cooked to safe temperature.

More than half of all traffic deaths are alcohol-related. As a host you need to keep safety in mind and be sensible about what is served. Designated drivers should be determined ahead of time.

Holiday Safety – Winter Travel

Winterize your vehicle by checking items such as the tires, brakes, battery and spark plugs. If you travel in extreme winter conditions be prepared for emergency situations and have an “Emergency Survival Kit,” in the car at all times with the following items: compass, first aid kit, flashlight, extra batteries, snow brush, ice scraper, and non-perishable items such as canned nuts or hard candy.

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