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Avoid Decorating Dangers

Before you climb onto the roof to string Christmas lights, you might want to know that hospital emergency rooms treat about 12,500 people for injuries, such as falls, cuts and shocks, each year related to holiday lights, decorations and Christmas trees, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In addition, candles start about 11,600 fires each year, Christmas trees are involved in about 300 fires, and both result in more than $183 million in property loss and damage, not to mention death and injuries.

Keep holiday spirits bright and protect your family and your home, by following these Safe-Kids recommended guidelines:

•    Decorate with children in mind. Do not put ornaments that have small parts or metal hooks, or look like food or candy, on the lower branches where small children can reach them.
•    When using a fresh cut tree minimize the risk of fire by keeping it watered at all times. Also, do not place the tree within three feet of a fireplace, space heater, radiator or heat vent.
•    Trim protruding branches at or below a child’s eye level.
•    Keep lights out of reach.
•    Never leave a lighted tree or other decorative lighting display unattended.
•    Inspect lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections and broken sockets.
•    Do not overload extension cords or outlets, and do not run an electrical cord under a rug.
•    Do not burn tree branches, treated wood or wrapping paper in a home fireplace.
•    Do not leave candles unattended.
•    Use stable candle holders that are out of reach of children.
•    Do not put lit candles on a tree.

Also, here are a few tips to prevent poisoning this holiday season:

•    Keep alcohol, including baking extracts, out of reach of children, and do not leave alcoholic beverages unattended.
•    Color additives used in fireplace fires are a toxic product and should be stored out of reach.
•    Artificial snow can be harmful if inhaled, so use it in a well-vented space.
•    Mistletoe berries, Holly Berry and Jerusalem Cherry can be poisonous. If these items are used in decorating, make sure children and pets cannot reach them.

In a poison emergency, call the national Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.

Safe Kids East Central, led by Georgia Health Sciences Children’s Medical Center, works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children 14 and under. For more information on Safe Kids, contact Rene Hopkins, RN, Coordinator, 706-721-7606 or visit

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