Staying Safe Over the Holidays

The holidays are a time for families and friends to come together. But they also mark a time when parents and pet owners should be extra careful. For as fun as this time of the year can be, there are many ways in which children and pets can injure themselves.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) hosts a stellar article that explains how to be prevent disasters, both small and large. The SPCA of Texas has a similar blog for furry friends. Below, some of the highlights for having a fun and safe holiday season.

The Tree
For those using an artificial Christmas tree, be sure to look for trees that are labeled "fire resistant." Even then, always keep it a safe distance from the fireplace. If you're using a live tree, the AAP suggests you check for freshness. The less fresh a tree is, the dryer it is. And the dryer it gets, the easier it will become a fire hazard.

Keep the tree stand full of water, but also make sure the tree stand is covered for the safety of your pets. According to the SPCA, tree water can be "infested with fertilizer, bacteria, and other harmful elements." You definitely don't want your pets drinking it. You'll also want to make sure cats don't climb the tree, tip it over, and possibly hurt themselves or others. Delicate and breakable ornaments should be placed higher on the tree so curious pets don't knock them down and possibly hurt themselves

Refreshments
One word: Eggnog. When the nog comes out, you gotta be careful. Kids left unattended can scoop it up and slurp it down. In fact, according to hospitals, incidents of alcohol poisoning in children rise during the holidays--in part due to more parties and half-empty drinks being left out. Same deal with dogs and cats -- alcoholic beverages are not good for pets. As for food, the SPCA writes that macadamia nuts and chocolate, both holiday favorites, can be especially dangerous for dogs, so try to keep those out of reach.

Decorations
Everyone likes Christmas lights, but hanging them from your house can be very dangerous. There's not really a sure-fire safe way to do it. The best you can do is use a steady ladder, and be safe. Hometips.com lists some helpful things to remember. Measure the length of the lights before you climb the ladder. Don't use nails to secure the lights (use plastic clips instead). And, if possible, secure the lights to the eaves of the house.

The Fireplace
It can be tempting to just throw all the used wrapping paper into the fire once the gifts are open. Don't. The AAP writes that "a flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely." The fumes can also cause sickness in people as well as pets.