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Decorate safely for holidays
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Before you begin to ‘deck your family’s halls’ this holiday season, you might want to consider a few safety tips. Safe Kids USA has some ideas on how to keep your family and home safe this year.

* Never leave a lit tree or other decorative lighting display unattended. Inspect lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections and broken sockets. Do not overload extension cords or outlets and do not run an electrical cord under a rug.
* Natural trees always involve some risk of fire. To minimize this risk, get a fresh tree and keep it watered at all times. Do not put the tree near a fireplace, space heater, radiator or heat vent. LED lights burn cooler than incandescent lights and pose a lower risk of fire.
* Decorate with children in mind. Do not put ornaments that have small parts or metal hooks, or look like food or candy, on the lower branches where small children can reach them. Trim protruding branches at or below a child’s eye level, and keep lights out of reach.
* Do not burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood or wrapping paper in a home fireplace.


* Keep ‘bubbling’ lights away from children. These lights can sometimes tempt children to break the glass, which can cut them. The liquid inside also has a hazardous chemical.
* Never leave lit candles unattended.
* Don’t put candles on a tree or a natural wreath, or near curtains or drapes.
* Keep matches and lighters locked out of a child’s reach.
* Decorative lighting should be labeled with the UL seal of approval from Underwriters Labs. If it’s not labeled for outdoor use, don’t use it outdoors.

Safe Kids USA also has some tips on keeping your family safe from accidental poisoning during the holidays:
* Keep alcohol (including baking extracts) out of reach and do not leave alcoholic drinks unattended.
* Color additives used in fireplace fires are a toxic product and should be stored out of reach. Artificial snow sprays are also harmful if inhaled.
* Holly berries, mistletoe berries, poinsettias, amaryllis, boxwood, Christmas rose, Crown of Thorns,   English ivy and Jerusalem cherry are all potentially harmful if eaten.
For more information, or to find out whether other decorative plants and products are hazardous to children, call your local Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.
For more information about general home safety, call Safe Kids East Central at 706-721-7606.

MCG Health System is composed of three organizations - MCG Health, Inc. and the clinical services offered by the faculty of the Medical College of Georgia and the members of the MCG Physicians Practice Group.
For more information, visit

Hopkins is with Safe Kids East Central at MCG Children's Medical Center.

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