Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are happy, joyous times, and safety should be incorporated into these celebrations.
According to the National Fire Protection Association 240 house fires resulted from unsafe Christmas trees and caused an average of 13 deaths, 27 injuries and $16.7 million in direct property damage annually from 2005 to 2009. Holiday lights, candles and unsafe fireplaces and heaters also cause additional fires, injuries and carbon monoxide exposures each year. Injuries to children are also a concern during the holiday season. Small items in presents can be choking hazards, and unintentional ingestion of alcohol and poisonous plants can occur.
Safety tips for the season
■ Always have functional smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors properly installed and maintained in your home. Replace batteries annually.
■ When buying a live Christmas tree, select one recently cut and ensure needles don't fall off when touched.
■ Do not put a live tree up too early; remove tree when it starts losing needles.
■ Maintain water in the base of a live tree and do not let it go dry.
■ Do not put a tree near drapes, heat vents, candles or fireplaces.
■ Be sure an artificial tree is certified by the manufacturer as fire- retardant.
■ Use lighting approved by UL (Underwriters Laboratories); don't use stringed lights with frayed cords.
■ Do not plug too many electrical items into an outlet or power strip.
■ Do not place candles on a tree or near curtains or other flammable objects.
■ Never leave lit candles unattended.
■ Keep candles out of the reach of young children and pets.
■ Be sure the candle holder is on a safe, heat-resistant surface.
■ Be sure the candle is in a well-ventilated room.
■ Young children may unknowingly ingest alcohol if the opportunity presents itself.
■ Use proper ventilation and carbon monoxide detectors with fireplaces and heaters.
■ Keep poisonous plants and berries out of reach of small children and pets.
■ Salts used to create colors in fireplaces are harmful if ingested.
■ Keep the poison control number (1-800-222-1222) posted where it can be easily accessed.
For more information, contact the Kentucky Injury Prevention Center or go to www.kiprc.uky.edu.