The holidays are meant to be a time for celebration. The last thing you want to encounter is misfortune. So, whether you're staying at home to host or just relax, here's a safety checklist to help you focus on the festivities and avoid the unthinkable. Remember: presence of mind can be the best present of all.
- Keep toys with small loose parts out of reach of younger children.
- Make sure batteries in toys are properly installed and not accessible to children. Never let children go to bed with battery-operated toys or gadgets.
- Quickly dispose of all packing materials that can choke or suffocate children, such as Styrofoam pellets, ties, plastic bags and wrapping.
- Never leave lit candles unattended.
- Keep lit candles in high places-away from children, pets and all decorations.
- Use low-based candleholders that can't tip easily.
- Trim candlewicks to prevent a high flickering flame.
- Be aware of candles used in a centerpiece, burning too long or low might ignite the decorations.
- If you're buying a real tree, check that it's fresh (its needles stubbornly stay on) and water it daily.
- Secure your tree in a sturdy stand.
- Place the tree away from high traffic areas, doorways and any heat-generators: ducts, vents, radiators, stoves or fireplaces.
- Keep tree decorations that are delicate, sharp, breakable or have small removable parts near the top of the tree.
- Remove your tree soon after the holidays, whenever the needles start to fall. Check with your municipality for a tree-recycling program.
- Never use indoor lights outside, or vice versa.
- Check all light bulbs before stringing them up and replace broken or burned-out bulbs with those recommended by the manufacturer.
- Discard any light strings that are frayed or have exposed wires, loose connections or broken light sockets.
- Never run electrical cords under carpets or through doorways.
- Never overload outlets.
- Always remember to turn off all holiday lights before bedtime and when you leave your home.
Away from home during the holidays? Here are a few tips to deter thieves
- Maintaining the illusion of everyday activity is the first defense against intruders. Use inexpensive automatic timers to turn on lights, the radio and even the television. Remember to stagger on-and-off times at realistic intervals.
- Sliding patio doors and garage doors are particularly vulnerable to thieves. Secure sliding doors with a steel rod. A simple padlock on the track of your garage door will help thwart attempts to force it open.
- Ask a neighbor to collect your mail and bring garbage bins to the curb. Give them a key so they can check inside the house, too. Cancel newspapers and scheduled deliveries or have them redirected to a neighbor.