Monday, December 20, 2010

Celebrate Christmas with Care

Jingle bells, Christmas trees and the smell of fresh snow really makes Christmas special. Unfortunately, not everyone gets to enjoy their Christmas laughing and celebrating with their family and friends. Fire raged late Sunday night at Barry Houser's home in McHenry County, where the family had gone to celebrate their Christmas weekend. Fortunately, no one was hurt but the home was completely destroyed and the decoration and festivities were all gone.

Around 12,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms every year during the 60 days surrounding the winter holiday season, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Most of these injuries are preventable so at the risk of sounding like a party pooper, take the following precautions and protect yourself and your families from a holiday mishap.

• Keep Christmas trees fresh – Choose a fresh Christmas tree and secure it in a sturdy stand. Place the tree away from heat sources and exits, and water it daily. If you purchase an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire-retardant.

• Test tree trimmings – When decorating with lights, be sure to purchase only those labeled by a testing laboratory. Never use lit candles to decorate Christmas trees. For outside decorations, use only those lights labeled for outdoor use. Be careful not to overload electrical outlets, and always unplug all lights before leaving home or going to bed. Never put electrical light on metal Christmas trees.

• Beware of holiday lighting – Take care when burning candles. Be sure they are kept away from decorations and other combustible materials. Don’t leave children unattended in a room with lit candles, and always keep candles, as well as matches and lighters, out of the reach of children. Never display lit candles in windows or near exits.

• Cook with care – Wear fitted clothing when cooking; hot burners can ignite loose clothing. Always turn pot handles in. Don’t store items on the stovetop as they could catch fire. Keep kitchen appliances clean and in good condition, and turn off after use. Don’t overload electrical outlets and don’t use appliances with frayed or cracked wires.

• Be cautious with portable and space heaters – Place space heaters at least three feet away from anything combustible, including wallpaper, bedding, clothing, pets and people. Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to bed. Don’t leave children or pets unattended with space heaters and be sure everyone knows that drying wet mittens or other clothing over space heaters is a fire danger.

• Keep alcohol away from kids and pets- Intake of alcoholic drinks by children and pets can cause alcohol poisoning. It’s good to be merry and drink and toast to each other, but just make sure all drinks are far away from children and pets.

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