Yes, it’s holiday season once again. The perfect time to remind everyone of some simple things you can do to keep your family safe and sound.

  1. First, if you have a tree, secure it well to keep it from tipping over. If it is a live tree, make sure it’s kept watered so it doesn’t dry out. Keep it away from floor heaters, fireplaces, or other heat sources. If it is artificial, make sure it is fire resistant. Keep no more than three strands of lights linked together on an extension cord. And never use electric lights on a metal tree, unless you’d enjoy a shocking experience.
  2. If you have children, tinsel, small decorations and bulbs should not be at the bottom of the tree. That’s where small children can reach for them, put into their mouths and be at risk for choking. In addition, some tree lights can have lead content in the wires. Don’t ask children to hang lights, and keep those wires out of reach. Even for parents, wear gloves to hang the lights and wash your hands afterward to avoid lead exposure.
  3. Avoid candles on trees and please keep any lit candles out of reach of small children. Turn off all lights and blow out all candles when you sleep or leave the house to avoid a potential fire hazard. And, much as you would any day of the year, make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
  4. 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 call the Northern New England Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.
  5. Finally, if you are hosting a party in your home, don’t forget to clean up the night of the party. That way, your child won’t discover alcohol or small snack foods that can be choking hazards the morning after.

To wrap up, just remember…

(Sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells”)

“So find some ways at holidays

So injuries don’t abound

Then you can really celebrate

With your kids safe and sound

So heed these rules and safety tools

So no one flips their 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 University of Vermont College of Medicine.  You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives atwww.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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