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FOR RELEASE: November 29, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn

Safety Tips for the Holidays

The tragic events of the year have led many to reflect on what matters most to them, especially during this holiday season. Many people have safety on their minds, and the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics wish to help by offering the following holiday safety tips:

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 your 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 and don't hang lights on 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 3 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.
  • Strings more than 12 inches in length can 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.

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.
  • 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.

Warm, Bright and Safe

  • 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.
  • Plugging lights directly into sockets and limiting the use of extension cords will cut down on the chances of a fire.
  • If an electrical cord feels warm to the touch, it is probably a fire hazard.

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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