“Deck the halls with boughs of holly,

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

If you eat this plant it won’t be jolly,

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.” 

It’s the holiday season once again. What better time to review some simple things you can do to keep you and your children safe and sound!

First, if you have a tree, secure it well to keep it from tipping. If it is a live tree, make sure it’s fresh, green, well-watered and the needles are hard to pull off. The drier the tree, the more of a fire hazard it is. In fact, keep a live tree away from floor heaters, fireplaces, or other heat sources. If it is an artificial tree, make sure it is fire resistant.

Keep no more than three strands of lights linked together on an extension cord. Never use electric lights on a metal tree – or you’re in for a shocking experience. Don’t forget to inspect those light strings each year for frayed cords, broken sockets or loose connections.

Keep the small bulbs, ornaments and tinsel high in the tree so children don’t try to eat them and choke. 

If there are children in the home, avoid candles or keep them out of reach of small children. Turn off all lights and blow out all candles when you sleep or leave the house. This will avoid a potential fire hazard. Also, it’s always a good idea to make sure your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detectors are working. 

Most holiday plants are safe, but remember that mistletoe and holly berries eaten in excess can be dangerous. If your child does snack on a holiday plant, you can always call the Northern New England Poison Center at 1-800 222-1222.

When you host a party in your home, don’t forget to clean up the night of the party. That will remove alcohol or small snack foods that can be choking hazards the morning after.

To wrap up…

(to the tune of “Dreydl Song”)

“I hope that with this safety knowledge

You will not flip your lids.

This is pediatrician Dr. Lewis First

Hoping you’ll be First with Kids!” 

Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.  You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and MyNBC 5, or visit the “First with Kids” video archives at www.UVMHealth.org/MedCenterFirstWithKids.

Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

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