Tips for a Safe and Healthy Holiday Season
Artificial Christmas Trees
Artificial trees must always bear the UL (Underwriter's Laboratory) or FM (Factory Mutual) Label. Some unlabeled plastic trees can burn with extreme vigor.
Live Christmas Trees
- Purchase green, moist Christmas trees with a pleasant odor.
- Check the needles. They should bend instead of break. Put your hand around a branch and pull towards you. There should be more needles remaining on the tree than there is in the palm of your hand.
- Bang the tree on the ground; there should not be substantial needle loss.
- Cut at least 1 inch, preferably 2 inches, off the bottom of the tree. If it is a really cold winter try to keep the tree in a bucket of water in the garage or an enclosed porch for several days so the temperature change will not be such a shock to your tree.
- Carefully select the location for your Christmas tree. It should be clear of all types of heating elements, fireplaces, and any other source that may dry it out.
- Mount your tree in a secure stand with a wide base to avoid tipping. The stand should hold at least 1 gallon of water.
- Water your tree generously and make sure it is never void of water. If possible, use a life-prolonging additive available at most drug, grocery and discount stores.
- Use only lights that are labeled with the UL or FM Labels.
- Although large light bulbs are nice to look at, they burn at a very high temperature and should not be used indoors.
- Check all light sets for frayed wiring and broken sockets as well as loose connections.
- Use no more than three sets per single extension.
- When using lights outdoors make sure they are labeled for outdoor use and securely fastened.
- Never use electric lights on metallic trees.
- Never leave a lighted tree unattended. Turn off all decorations before leaving the house or going to bed. A short circuit could cause a fire.
Paper and Ribbon
- Dispose of immediately to avoid a hazard to children and pets.
- Do not burn paper in a fireplace. Wrappings can emit toxic fumes as well as cause a flash fire.
- Always keep your fireplace screen closed to avoid flying sparks.
- Make sure your fire is contained before retiring for the evening.
- Never use lighted candles with any type of live evergreens.
- Make sure candleholders are nonflammable.
- Always place candles where they cannot be knocked over.
Kitchen and Cooking
- Never wear loose fitting clothing that can be easily ignited while moving briskly.
- Put a lid on the pan to extinguish grease fires.
- Turn the heat source off and shut oven doors to extinguish oven fires.
- Keep appliance cords and pot handles out of the reach of small children.
Children and Pets
- Avoid using tinsel. It is a choking hazard and tugging on it could topple your tree. Old tinsel may also contain lead.
- Place glass ornaments and smaller choking sized ornaments out of reach.
- Never leave a baby alone near a tree without a gate surrounding the tree or the baby.
- Always keep lit candles and Hanukkah menorahs out of reach.
- It is a good idea to tie bells to the lower branches to warn you of curious hands and paws.
- Be careful of toxic decorations. Mistletoe and holly berries may be poisonous if more than a few are swallowed. Fire salts can contain heavy metals. Contact a physician or the poison control center immediately if ingested.
- Keep safety in mind when selecting age-appropriate toys and gifts for children.
- Check the batteries in all smoke detectors.
- Invest in a life-saving carbon monoxide detector.
- Most local home stores sell inexpensive yet effective fire extinguishers
- Make sure all the members of your household know how to contact the local rescue and fire department.
- If you smell smoke, drop low and go, go, go!
Toy Safety Tips
Parents and gift-givers can help prevent toy-related injuries and deaths by always reading labels and being safety conscious. The following tips will help you choose appropriate toys this holiday season and all year round:
- Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills, and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards to younger children.
- For infants, toddlers, and all who still place objects in their mouth, avoid toys with small parts which could pose a fatal choking hazard.
- For all children under age eight, avoid toys that have sharp edges and points.
- Do not purchase electric toys with heating elements for children under age eight.
- Be a label reader. Look for labels that give age recommendations and use that information as a guide.
- Look for sturdy construction, such as tightly secured eyes, noses, and other potential small parts.
- Check instructions for clarity. They should be clear to you, and when appropriate, to the child.
- Discard plastic wrappings on toys immediately, which can cause suffocation when they become deadly playthings.
- Try not to shop alone. You are less of a target when with someone.
- Do not carry large amounts of cash and pay discreetly.
- Park in a safe, well-lighted area.
- Be aware of your surroundings, especially while walking to your car.
- Lock all packages in your trunk to keep them out of sight.
- Make sure your children know to ask a clerk for help if they get separated.
Avoiding Holiday Depression and Stress
Many people become depressed during the holiday season, even more respond to the excessive stress and anxiety once the holidays have passed. There are several ways to identify potential sources of holiday depression that can help you head off the blues.
- Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable by not trying to make the holiday "the best ever." Set realistic goals for yourself; pace yourself, and organize your time. Make a list and prioritize the most important activities. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
- Remember that the holiday season does not automatically banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely.
- Let go of the past; do something for someone else, and try volunteering some time to help others.
- Do not drink too much. Excessive drinking will only make you more depressed.
- Do not be afraid to try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a way you haven't before.
- Spend time with people who are supportive and who care about you. Reach out to make friends if you are alone during special times or contact someone with whom you have lost touch with.
- Find time for yourself. Do not spend all your time providing activities for your family and friends.
Safe and Healthy Celebrations
- Never drink and drive!
- When attending a party be sure to know your safe limits. Only time eliminates alcohol from your body. Try one alcoholic drink followed by a non-alcoholic drink.
- Try to eat food to absorb some of the effects.
- It's OK not to drink alcoholic beverages.
- Find alternative transportation for intoxicated party guests.
We at the New England Laborers' Health & Safety Fund wish you and your loved ones a Safe and
Happy Holiday Season!