Holiday Decorations – Celebrate the Season Safely

The holidays are here and what an exciting time of the year for kids and adults alike! Holidays are times to enjoy spending time with family and friends. During this time, many of us decorate our homes and places of work to cherish the holiday feeling with trees, signs, lights, and candles. People like me, who love to travel, use some of the days off to travel with family and see places or visit loved ones. However it’s important to remember some safety tips to ensure a safe holiday season and decrease stress.  I want to share some tips from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) over the next few weeks to help make sure your holidays are safe.

Holiday Decoration:

•  When selecting an artificial tree, holiday ornaments or decorations, look for ‘non-combustible,’  ‘flame-resistant ‘ or ‘fire- resistant’ products.

•  When selecting a live tree, check for freshness, where the needles of the tree are hard to pull from branches and the tree does not lose many needles when the tree is tapped on the ground. Keep the trees in sturdy stands with water. I have seen many injuries that happen when trees kept in an unsteady base topple over small children who are playing near the trees.  Keep trees away from heating sources such as room heaters and fire places. Dry trees pose a fire hazard.

•  Christmas lights in and outside houses are sources of residential fires if they are not installed properly. With indoor lights, make sure there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. Make sure only ‘outdoor’ certified lights are used to decorate around the house and plug them into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.

•  Always turn these lights off when you leave home or go to bed.

•  Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 240 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 150 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year. Together, these fires result in an average of 21 deaths and about $25.2 million in direct property damage every year.

•  If you have small children, try to avoid decorations that are sharp, breakable or if they have loose parts that can come apart and pose a choking hazard. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or other edible products.

•  When discarding wrappings of décor or gifts, put them away from small children, heaters or fireplaces because these can potentially become suffocation hazards or catch fire.

Next week, I’ll gather some more tips about safe holiday toys, travel and meals. Until then, stay safe and enjoy the season!

Shobha Bhaskar, M.D. About Shobha Bhaskar, M.D.

Shobha Bhaskar, MD is a pediatric hospitalist with St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, who also sees patients at Children's Hospital facilities at Missouri Baptist Medical Center and Progress West Healthcare. Connect with Dr. Bhaskar on Facebook: ChildrensMomDocs and .

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