December 15, 2012

Keep holidays merry, bright - and safe


---- — (To the tune of “The First Noel”)

As the holidays approach,

Please keep safety in mind

So no accidents occur and

No injuries you’ll find.

It’s holiday season once again and good time to remind everyone of some simple things that can be done to keep the family safe and sound.

First, if you have a tree, secure it well to keep it from tipping. If it is a live tree, make sure it’s fresh, green and watered so it doesn’t dry out. In addition, make sure the needles are hard to pull off. Keep it away from floor heaters, fireplaces or other heat sources. If your tree is artificial, make sure it’s fire resistant. Keep no more than three strands of lights linked together on an extension cord, and never use electric lights on a metal tree, as there is a risk of shock.

If there are children in the home, keep tinsel, small decorations, bulbs and other choking hazards out of the reach of small children.  

Some lighting products for sale at stores warn about lead content in the wires. While the amount of lead contained in these wires is small, it’s still a good idea to avoid asking children to hang lights and keep the wires out of reach of children. Wear gloves to hang the lights, and wash hands after you have finished your decorating. You can also look for lead-free holiday lights, but they may be hard to find. The branches on older artificial trees may also be lead hazards.

Avoid candles on trees, and keep candles placed elsewhere out of the reach of small children or just don’t light them up at all when children are in the house. Turn off all lights and blow out all candles when you sleep or leave the house to avoid a potential fire hazard — and, of course, make sure your smoke detectors are working.

Most holiday plants are safe, but remember that mistletoe and holly berries eaten in excess can be dangerous. If your child does snack on a holiday plant, call the Northern New England Poison Center at 1 (800) 222-1222.

If you are hosting a party in your home, don’t forget to clean up the night of the party so your child doesn’t discover alcohol or small snack foods like peanuts and popcorn that can be choking hazards the morning after the event. To wrap up …

(To the tune of “Jingle Bells”)

So find some ways at holidays

So injuries don’t abound

Then you can really celebrate

With your kids safe and sound

So heed these rules and safety tools

So no one flips their lids

This is pediatrician Dr. Lewis First

Hoping you’ll be First with Kids!

Happy holidays!

Dr. Lewis First is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.