(To the tune "Oh Christmas Tree")
The holidays won't be jolly days
When injuries occur so many ways!
Yes it's holiday season once again, and what better time to remind everyone of some simple things you can do to keep you and your children safe and sound.
First if you have a holiday tree, secure it well to keep it from tipping. If it is a live tree, make sure its fresh, green, and that the needles are hard to pull off. Keep it well watered and away from floor heaters, fireplaces, or other heat sources. If it is artificial, make sure it is fire resistant. Keep no more than 3 strands of lights linked together on an extension cord and never use electric lights on a metal tree. Don't forget to inspect those light strings each year for frayed cords, cracked lamp holders or loose connections.
If there are children in the home, tinsel, small decorations, ornaments, and bulbs should not be at the bottom of the tree where small children can reach for them and then put into their mouths. In addition, some of the light products bought at stores warn about lead content in the wires. While the amount of lead contained in these wires is small, it is still a good idea to not ask children to hang lights and keep the wires as well as the lights out or reach of children. Wear gloves to hang the lights and wash hands after you have finished your decorating. You can also look for lead-free holiday lights but these may be hard to find.
As for candles, avoid putting them on trees and please keep candles placed elsewhere out of reach of small children, or just don't light them up at all if there are children in the house. Turn off all lights and blow out all candles when you sleep or leave the house to avoid a potential fire hazard and of course make sure your smoke detector is working.
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 always call the Northeast Regional Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.
If you are hosting a party in your home, don't forget to clean up the night of the party so your child doesn't discover alcohol or small snack foods that can be choking hazards the morning after.
To wrap up:
(To the tune of The Christmas Song - also known as "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire")
And so if you're following my safety tips
You'll keep your cool and will not flip your lids
This is pediatrician Dr. Lewis First
Hoping you'll be First with Kids!
Happy holidays everyone!
Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care 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 at http://www.FletcherAl