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Safe home for the holidays

Take some safety precautions in your home to avoid accidents.

The holiday season is widely acknowledged as “the most wonderful time of the year.” You can be sure your time is wonderful by taking some safety precautions in your home to avoid accidents.

Decorating is a big part of the holidays. When you’re hanging decorations or lights, be sure to use a safe ladder or step stool, even when you’re indoors. Don’t climb furniture, which can be unstable or wobbly. This will help prevent falls and broken bones or other injuries.

“When giving toys to children, keep in mind that any child under age 3 will put things in their mouth,” said Erika Janes, R.N., with Children’s Hospital Foundation Office of Child Advocacy of Norton Children’s Hospital and coordinator of Safe Kids Louisville.

Always pay attention to the age recommendation listed on the toy’s package. Avoid those with small parts that could become a choking hazard.

“If any part of a toy fits through the hole of a toilet paper roll, it could be a choking hazard for a small child,” Janes said. “Also, inspect toys to make sure they don’t contain any toxic materials, have sharp points or edges, and are not prone to breaking.”

Fire safety also is a major concern during the holidays, and most house fires occur in the winter months. Fireplaces, tree lights, candles and electric heaters are some of the biggest threats. According to the American Red Cross, nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays, claiming more than 500 lives, causing 2,200 injuries and $554 million in property damage. The number of home fires responded to by the American Red Cross has increased 10 percent since 2000.

Fire safety tips

• Keep candles away from children, pets, plants, curtains or any flammable material.

• If you have a live Christmas tree, keep it watered and check it daily to make sure it hasn’t dried out.

• Never leave a stove, fireplace or electrical appliance unattended.

• Do not use gasoline or charcoal-burning devices inside your home or garage. These pose not only a fire risk but a carbon monoxide poisoning risk.

• Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Be sure to test them regularly and replace the batteries at least two times a year. Each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and each level of the home should have a smoke detector, including the basement.

Finally, don’t risk being sick during the holidays. Washing your hands regularly is the most important step you can take to avoid getting sick or spreading germs.

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