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Fill-in-Blank News Release
for County Health Departments

Date:
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Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Holidays are exciting times for children and adults can help make sure they are safe times as well.  The _____ County Health Department offers the following holiday safety tips to make your holidays more enjoyable:

Tree Safety

  • Position your tree a good distance away from any heat sources like fireplaces, radiators or portable heaters.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of a live tree for better water absorption to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Check all tree lights before hanging them to make sure they work, aren't frayed or broken or have loose connections.
  • Make sure artificial trees are labeled “fire-resistant.”  

Lights and Decorations

  • Don’t hang 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.
  • Before using lights outdoors, make sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
  • Plugging lights directly into sockets and limiting the use of extension cords will cut down on the chances
  • If an electrical cord feels warm
  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree.
  • Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • In homes with small children, avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimming with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.

Toy Safety

  • Follow age ranges on toy packages to prevent safety hazards for younger children.
  • Before buying or playing with a toy, read the instructions for proper use.
  • Be careful of gift-wrapping that can pose suffocation and choking hazards.
  • Children under age 4 can choke on small parts contained in toys or games and balls with a diameter of one and three-quarters of an inch or less.
  • Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons.
  • Swatch for toys with strings more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.

Outdoor Fun

  • Keep your child's gloves and shoes dry, even if you have to change them.
  • Do not sled onto the roadway. Look for shallow slopes free of obstacles such as trees and fences.
  • When cutting down your own tree for the holiday, let the adults do the chopping.

Holiday Food Safety

  • Bacteria are often present in raw foods so always wash raw vegetables and fruits.
  • Be sure to keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of counters and tables.
  • Wash your hands frequently, and make sure your children do the same.
  • Never put a spoon used to taste food back into food without washing it.
  • Keep raw foods and cooked foods separate and use separate utensils when preparing them.
  • Thaw meat in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Fully cook meats and poultry.
  • Foods that require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours.

Fireplaces

  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, and outside each bedroom.
  • Use a sturdy fireplace screen to prevent sparks from escaping.
  • Only use the fireplace when you are home and awake. Extinguish the fire when you go out and at bedtime.
  • Use care with “fire salts” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

Happy Visiting

  • Clean up immediately after a holiday party to prevent a toddler from choking.
  • Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed.
  • Ask your neighbor if they have a gun before sending your kids over to play. If the answer is yes, make sure all guns are stored unloaded and locked with ammunition locked separately.
  • Keep a laminated list of important phone numbers posted in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department, your pediatrician and the poison control center on the list.

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