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Holiday Home Safety Tips

By Liberty Hospital

With the holidays comes a new set of potential hazards in your home. If you have small children and/or pets at your house, Jennifer Moretina, M.D., of The Liberty Clinic, said taking some precautions can prevent some common injuries during the holidays.

“Some of the most common injuries are sustained in the kitchen or while decorating the house,” she said. Dr. Moretina, director of the Liberty Hospital Urgent Care Shoal Creek, recommended the following holiday safety tips for families:

  1. Be careful in the kitchen with knives and handling hot food or liquids. Turn handles to the back or the side of the stove and keep children away when opening the oven door.
  2. Make sure food is cooked to the proper temperatures. The internal temperature of pork or turkey should reach at least 165 degrees.  Leaving food out at room temperature for long periods of time also can increase the risk of food poisoning.  Hot food should be held at 135 degrees and stirred frequently if not being served immediately or if it’s going to be set out for several hours. 
  3. Use stepladders correctly to decorate the tree or hang items in the house.  “Test leaning ladders to make sure they are sturdy and have good footing on the ground before hanging Christmas lights,” she said. “Examine strings of lights to make sure there are no missing bulbs and there are no exposed wires to help reduce the risk of accidental fires or shocks.”
  4. Keep poinsettias, mistletoe and holly berries out of reach of young children and pets.  “Although commonly thought as poisonous, poinsettias leaves can cause vomiting or upset stomach, but are not dangerously toxic,” Dr. Moretina said. “However, mistletoe and holly berries are very toxic and if ingested, that person should seek immediate medical attention.”
  5. Keep small decorations out of a child’s reach to prevent choking hazards.  “Some ornaments are shaped as candy and sweets and are very tempting for a child to ingest,” she said. “Also, shiny Christmas lights are tempting for children to play with and can cause serious shocks and burns.”
  6. Clean up broken glass immediately and thoroughly after dropping an ornament or decoration. This prevents the shards from being stepped on by bare feet. 
  7. Make sure candles are extinguished before leaving them unattended. “Don’t forget to place lit candles out of the reach of children to prevent burns from the hot wax,” she said.
  8. Water live Christmas trees regularly.  “As the tree branches and needles of evergreens dry, they become very susceptible to catching fire, even by lit ornaments or tree lights,” Dr. Moretina said. “This also is a good time of year to check smoke detectors and replace the batteries.”






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