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No doubt, everyone is looking forward to getting into the Christmas spirit. Part of that excitement is putting up the decorations leading up to the holiday. With the covid-19 pandemic, Christmas might be a little different this year. Families aren’t traveling to enjoy Christmas together, holiday shopping will be mostly online, and New York City for the most part will likely be empty.
At the end of the day, families will still be grateful to celebrate the holidays at home. Perhaps this year since many have more free time at home, some families will put extra effort to decorate. Whether or not this is the case, caution should always be taken when putting up Christmas decorations. There are a number of dangers that could present themselves, and avoiding these dangers could prevent a catastrophe for your family.
The president of the Electrical Safety Foundation International made that point that “People are using more energy than they’re used to and intrinsically you have more things around that can catch fire.” According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas tree fires cause more than $16 million worth of property damage each year. One frayed wire could mean the difference between a happy holiday and an electrical fire. When a wire is frayed and plugged in, it could easily begin to smoke, and being attached to a highly flammable object, a pine tree, it could easily go aflame.
To keep safe and avoid holiday fires, experts say never overload electrical outlets, inspect decorations for loose wires, buy lights and cords from trusted retailers, and always unplug decorations before leaving home or going to bed. Additionally, if you’re going to buy a real tree, look for one with fresh green needles. The more alive it is, the less flammable it could be.
While many believe Poinsettias are poisonous, they really don’t pose much of a threat. The Western Journal of Emergency Medicine found that only about 3 percent of children who eat it will develop any symptoms. Even those who do experience symptoms are mild at best. The main concern with poinsettias is that it could potentially make your cat or dog sick if ingested. If you have them in the house, it’s best to keep them out of reach from your pet.
Your bigger concern should be the holly. Not only are the leaves very pointy and could hurt a curious child, but the berries themselves are mildly poisonous. The berries look innocent enough to kids, but just five berries could lead to vomiting and abdominal cramping in children because they contain compounds called saponin. Bittersweet and Jerusalem cherry fruits can also cause GI issues and might even be fatal to kids.
If you have young children, then it’s important to evaluate the sturdiness of your Christmas tree. Test your stand to make sure it’s sturdy before you start trimming the tree. Take steps to keep it from being knocked over by keeping it away from doorways. Keep your children at a safe distance while putting up decorations. Be careful with putting up those ornaments as well, if a young child yanks one down, the glass ornament could shatter and hurt your child. If you’re worried, put a safety gate around the tree so curious kids can’t bump it down.
If you have a thing for fake candy canes, you really need to be careful about your children potentially attempting to eat the fake candy. You’d never put a fake candy cane ornament in your own mouth, but a child might not know any better. Avoid ones that really look like candy or food that may tempt a child. Some decorations could contain lead or cadmium, which could be poisonous if your child tries to eat them.
The top four days for candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Whether you’re adding some ambiance or lighting a menorah, treat a candle like the fire hazard it is. Never put one on a Christmas tree, and be sure to blow it out when you leave the room. If you do decide to use them, keep them on a stable, heat-resistant surface where kids can’t reach them or knock them over. Better yet, stick with a battery-operated candle instead of a real flame.
Finally, if you have children, it’s important to assess all the decorations you have around the house. Any small object could present itself as a choking hazard. You don’t give toddlers toys with tiny parts that they could swallow, so don’t leave those choking hazards around the house either. Kids might want to stick small parts, like nativity scene figurines, in their mouths. Leave them out of reach from little hands.
Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and slip and fall injuries.
His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.