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The ultimate holiday health & safety tip sheet

Christmas Trees
If you plan to use a chainsaw to cut down a living tree, make sure to read the operators manual or get training from someone experienced with chainsaws. Remember to use goggles, work gloves and other protective clothing. If you have to lift your Christmas tree into your car trunk or onto the roof, remember to bend with your knees to save your back and ask for help if you think you need it. Remember to securely fasten the tree onto the roof or in the trunk. Make sure your artificial tree has a "fire resistant" label. Ensure your live Christmas tree is fresh and naturally fire-retardant. Look for sticky resin on the trunk butt and needles that are green and stay on the tree when it is shaken. Make a fresh cut on the trunk for better water absorption. Place the tree away from fireplaces, portable heaters, and other heat sources. Keep the stand filled with water because heated rooms can dry live trees rapidly. Holiday Lighting
Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. Before using lights outdoors, check labels to make sure they have been certified for outdoor use. Use hooks or insulated staples (not nails or tacks) to hold lights in place and never pull or tug lights to remove them. Check decorative lights (even if they're new) for frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections before hanging them. Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks. Inspect ladders for loose or missing screws, hinges, bolts and nuts. Ladders should be non-metal if used around electricity and should extend at least three feet past the edge of the roof. Avoid working alone when using ladders and working off the ground. Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. Keep candles away from decorations, curtains and drapes or other combustibles. Never display lighted candles in windows or near exits and never use lit candles as tree decorations or near cut greenery. Always keep candles, matches and lighters out of the reach of children and do not leave children unattended in a room with lit candles. Decorations
Use only non- combustible or flame-resistant decorating materials. In homes with small children or pets, avoid decorations that are sharp, breakable, resemble food or have small removable parts. Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation if decorating with spun glass "angel hair" and follow instructions to avoid lung irritation if using artificial snow sprays. Keep all wrapping papers, bows, bags, and ribbons away from small children after gifts are opened to prevent choking hazards. Fireplaces
Have chimney and fireplaces inspected and cleaned as necessary and always make sure the flu is open before lighting a fire. Burn only dry wood or manufactured fireplace logs. Do not burn evergreens, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace. Hang your stockings with care -- but not if the fireplace is lit. Keep "fire salts" away from children and pets. They can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation if eaten. Gifts
Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child -- toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children. Avoid buying infant and toddler toys with ropes, cords or strings, toys small enough to be swallowed, and toys with small buttons, glass eyes, or propelled by springs or rubber bands. Select gifts for older adults that are not too heavy or awkward to handle, do not require assembly and can be opened or closed easily. Consider choosing books with large type for the vision impaired. Fire and Carbon Monoxide Safety
Ensure electrical outlets are not overloaded and smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are in good working order. Do not leave the stove unattended when cooking. Follow manufacturers' recommendations for safe operation of kerosene and propane heaters. Know and practice fire exit drills with your family. Last but not Least
Remember to take precautions to stay healthy in holiday shopping crowds. Keep your hands in your pockets as much as possible and bring hand sanitizer to prevent spreading germs to your mouth and nose; dress in layers so you don't get overheated and remember to stay hydrated. Many holiday plants can cause severe stomach problems in children and pets if ingested. These include mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry, amaryllis and poinsettia. Remember food safety. Fully cook meats and poultry, keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of counters and tables, keep raw and cooked foods separate, always thaw meat and fish in the refrigerator, and do not leave refrigerated foods at room temperature for more than two hours. If hosting a party that includes alcohol, provide plenty of snacks. Include non-alcoholic drinks, provide rides for intoxicated guests and keep bottles and used glasses away from children during and after the party. The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year. Give yourself plenty of time to run errands and shop, don't speed in the car or rush through shops and parking lots, don't carry too many packages, and try not to assign yourself an unreasonable number of holiday tasks.

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