We don't mean to be kill-joys during the most joyous time of the year, but the stats don't lie: According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 12,500 of you have to leave the company of your loved ones to rush to the emergency room due to holiday-related accidental injuries. Here are some common holiday dangers that are overlooked by distracted holiday revelers more often than you might think. Take a look, know the warning signs, and you'll be the first to know if you, your loved ones, or your pets are victims of a toxic Christmas.
1. Christmas Tree Mold
If your sniffling and sneezing coincide with the arrival of your freshly cut Christmas tree, you could be reacting to skyrocketing mold spore counts. If you must have a real tree in your home, prevent allergic reactions for guests and loved ones by hosing your tree down, spraying it with a mold-resistant sealant like M-1 Sure Cote, and allowing it to dry before bringing it indoors.
Mold spore counts might be lower with living trees, and lower still with artificial trees. But, keep in mind that some mold can grow on living trees in nature and that dust accumulates while artificial trees are in storage. Also, ask growers about the pollination behavior of your tree: Mountain cedar trees pollinate in late November to early December, so allergy sufferers should steer clear of that variety. Allergy sufferers should consider wearing an allergy relief mask while decorating and keeping an air purifier in the room of the display.
2. Kids Full of Christmas Spirits
Having a holiday party? Odds are there'll be some grown-up party drinks to toast the season and, perhaps, some kids scampering about. Again, children can be quite curious and love to imitate adults. Alcohol poisoning is not uncommon with young ones during the holidays, considering half-empty drink glasses may be left around and forgotten. Be sure to ask guests to dispose of their leftovers appropriately, or take special care to do it yourself.
3. Chocolate-Loving Dogs
If you're baking this holiday, keep your ingredients stored in a high cabinet and not anyplace where your pup could get to them. Theobromine, a compound present in chocolate that is toxic to dogs but not humans, could cause a range of symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea, seizures, coma, or even death. Potential toxic doses vary by breed size and weight, but unsweetened cocoa and baking chocolate pose the highest risk, while milk chocolate is least threatening. If you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic amount of chocolate, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.
4. Not So Merry Medicine
Grandpa, Grandma, and other overnight guests may be traveling with medication. You can monitor and properly store your own prescriptions but when guests come, they may leave theirs on guest room nightstands and bathroom vanities, right in reach of the little ones.
Designate a secure area or tray on a high dresser for guests to lay out their pill boxes and bottles. Give guests a special place to put their pocketbooks and bags (which may also contain pills and other medications) that is inaccessible to children, too.
5. Snow Shoveling
It's important to keep walkways clear of snow and ice to prevent injury from slips and falls. But, it's just as important to make sure you're shoveling correctly so as not to hurt yourself. Avoid pulling your back by bending at the knees, keeping your back straight, tightening your stomach muscles, and lifting with your legs. See more Digging Do's and Dont's from TOH landscape contractor Roger Cook to make sure you make it through the holidays with your back intact.
See the rest of the holiday hazards at thisoldhouse.com