Baton Rouge --- Amid the celebrations and festivities that will take place throughout the next month, it is important to keep some basic safety tips in mind while preparing your home for the holidays.
“Taking certain precautions while lighting candles, decorating trees and preparing food for the family meal can help ensure that this remains the most wonderful time of the year,” said Department of Health Secretary David W. Hood.
Some of the areas in which to practice home safety are:
Lights and Candles
· Decorate your tree using only Underwriters' Lab Inc.-- approved lights and cords. Inspect lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets. Do not overload extension cords. Use no more than three strings of lights on one extension cord and never run an electrical cord under a carpet. Be sure to secure electrical cords so that children cannot pull them and topple the tree.
· Turn off the tree lights when you go to bed, depart from home or leave the tree in an unattended room.
· Keep burning candles out of children’s reach; keep matches and lighters out of sight and locked away. Do not leave candles unattended.
· Teach children not to touch burning candles.
Do not place candles near draperies or anything that might easily catch fire. If you build a fire, use a fireplace screen and do not leave young children alone in the room. Make sure you put out fires and candles when you go to bed or leave the home.
Install smoke alarms in your home on every level and in every sleeping area. Test alarms once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year. Home fires and home fire-related deaths are more likely to occur during the cold-weather months.
Plan and practice several fire escape routes from each room of your home and identify an outside meeting place.
· Look for a fresh tree if you choose to buy a natural tree. Fresh trees are less likely to catch fire than older trees. (A safer option is to buy a fire-resistant artificial tree.)
· Keep your tree in a container full of water and check it daily.
· Use a wide-based stand to make sure the tree is secure and will not fall over.
· Cover the tree basin with a tree skirt or blanket.
· Decorate your tree with children in mind. Do not put ornaments that are breakable, have small detachable parts or metal hooks or look like food or candy on the lower branches where small children can reach them. Also, make sure tree lights are hung out of reach of young children.
· Cut back the lower branches to avoid eye injuries to small children
· Keep the tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces, radiators and heating vents.
· Never burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood or wrapping paper in your fireplace.
Dispose of your tree promptly after the holidays.
· Keep round, hard foods and candies such as candy cane pieces, mints, nuts and popcorn out of reach of young children, as these can pose choking hazards.
· Bacteria are present in raw foods. Be sure to fully cook all poultry and meat. Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before serving.
· Keep hot foods and liquids away from counter or table edges, where it is easy for young children to grab them or knock them over.
· When sampling food while cooking, use a separate spoon or utensil than the one being used to mix the food, and do not use that spoon to sample the food again. Immediately wash the spoon or set it aside after using it to taste.
· Thaw meat or poultry in the refrigerator, not the countertop, to avoid spreading bacteria.
· Do not leave foods that require refrigeration at room temperature for more than two hours. Place these items in a refrigerator once everyone has finished eating.
· Keep small ornaments, tinsel, small figurines and other decorations away from children’s reach. Young children have a tendency to put everything in their mouths.
· Place gift-wrapping items in a storage place when finished using them. These items can cause choking or suffocation for young children.
· Take care not to place paper decorations near lights, candles or electric decorations.
· Keep stockings, wrapping paper and other flammable objects away from the fireplace while it is in use.
· Purchase age-appropriate toys for children.
· Do not give a child younger than four toys with small or breakable parts that he or she could place in her mouth and choke on.
· Pull toys that contain strings more than 12 inches in length are a strangulation hazard for babies and young children.
For more information on holiday safety, please contact Louisiana SAFE KIDS at (504) 568-2508 or visit the group’s Web site at http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/offices/?ID=234 Safe Kids is an organization sponsored by OPH and Children’s Hospital.