Pet Safety For the Festive Season

Cat and candle
Pets and open flame don’t mix.

Most families consider their pets part of their family, and we love sharing holidays with family. Just be sure to do so safely. 

Stoves and cook tops are involved in the largest number of fires started by pets, which may jump up on them—or on you while you’re cooking—to get at food. Just as you establish a “kid-free zone” around the stove when cooking, establish one for pets. Enlist your children’s help in keeping pets away, or use a baby gate to confine them in a different area while you’re cooking. Even after turning off the burners, don’t leave tempting food on the stove top unattended.  

The American Kennel Club provides these tips, some especially for the holidays and some to remember year-round:

  • Avoid decorating with food, like popcorn or cranberry strands, because they can cause upset stomachs if eaten by your pets.
  • Be aware of the pet hazards of Christmas trees. Don’t let your pet drink the water in a natural tree stand, which can cause stomach irritation or contain poisonous plant food. Also place sparkly ornaments that can catch your dog’s eye higher up on your tree where they can’t be reached, because eating one can cause major problems. You may want to consider putting a gate around the tree if you have a persistent pet.
  • Some of the holiday foods that humans love can make our pets ill. Keep them away from chocolate, butter, turkey skin, fat and candy.
  • Don’t leave your pet unattended around an open flame of any kind. Pets are curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace.
  • Consider flameless candles, which use a light bulb instead of an open flame. Pets have started fires when their tails overturned lit candles.
  • Don’t leave a glass water bowl for your pet outside on a wooden deck.  The sun’s rays, filtered through the glass and water, can actually heat up and ignite the wooden deck.

While you’re not at home:

  • Keep pets near entrances. When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them. Keep collars on pets and leashes at the ready in case firefighters need to rescue your pet.
  • Secure young pets, especially young puppies, away from potential fire-starting hazards, in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.

Learn more ways to Be Safe With Your Pet.

DST Ends Nov. 6. Yes, it’s still time to check your smoke alarms.

Much has changed since the original “Change Your Clocks, Check Your Smoke Alarms” message first appeared. Digital clocks change themselves, long-life batteries are common, and Congress is talking about getting rid of Daylight Saving Time changes altogether. But this year’s time change is still an important reminder to check your alarms and practice your home fire drill.

Ideally you should test all smoke alarms monthly, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. Even for smoke alarms that have long-life batteries—or are hard-wired—it’s still important to make sure the alarm is working. Not every single long-life battery will work for 10 years, and even hard-wired alarms can fail. Test your CO detector too. They need to be replaced every 5-7 years.

And planning and practicing what to do when your smoke alarm goes off is more important than ever. Because modern materials burn faster and hotter than ever, you may have as little as 2 minutes to get out from the time the smoke alarms sound.

Small Batteries Can Be Big Hazard to Young Children

How many button batteries are in your home? After counting remotes, key fobs and toys, don’t forget the ones in thermometers, scales, and even singing greeting cards. Small batteries are everywhere, and that can spell danger for children.

According to data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, from 2010 to 2019 there was an average of one battery-related pediatric visit to the emergency department every 1.25 hours, up from one every 2.66 hours in the previous decade. The majority were children under 5, who swallow batteries or put them in their nose or ears.

Reese’s Law, enacted this summer,  will require that devices with button batteries carry a warning label to keep the batteries out of children’s reach and ensure they have child-resistant battery compartments. But adult awareness and supervision are still the best way to protect children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • Check which electronic devices contain button batteries, and keep them out of children’s reach.
  • As with matches and lighters, keep all batteries locked and out of sight of young children.
  • Promptly recycle dead batteries or put them outside in a garbage can.
  • If you think your child might have swallowed a battery, or put it in their nose or ears, don’t hesitate.  Call poison control and head to the emergency department immediately.

Oct. 9-15 is Fire Prevention Week: Plan Your Escape

74 percent of all U.S. fire deaths occur in the home, according to the National Fire Protection Association. NFPA also warns that when a home fire occurs, it’s more likely to be serious. People are more likely to die in a home fire today than they were in 1980, because modern materials burn faster and hotter. You may have as little as 2 minutes to get out from the time the smoke alarms sound.

That’s why NFPA’s theme for Fire Prevention Week 2022 is “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape™”

Everyone in your household should take part in planning your escape:

  • Think about how you will escape from every room, starting with bedrooms.
  • If possible, plan two escape routes from each room. Your second route may be to go out a window, or stand at a window where firefighters can see you.
  • Decide where you will meet outside.
  • Plan everyone’s role. Who will make sure children get out? Plan for special needs. Do you have: Young children? Older adults? People with temporary or permanent disabilities? Do you ever have overnight guests?
  • Share your plan with babysitters and frequent visitors.
  • Keep your floors, hallways and stairs clear of clutter.
  • Fire extinguishers require planning too.
  • Practice your home fire drill.

September is National Preparedness Month

Disasters and emergencies—fires, floods, storms and other hazards — can happen at any time, in any location. Launched in 2004, National Preparedness Month is FEMA’s national annual preparedness outreach to remind us all of the need to be prepared for such emergencies, whether evacuating and sheltering.

FEMA’s suggestions:

Hot Car Danger: Protect Your Child

Most parents and caregivers just cannot believe that they would ever “forget” their child in a vehicle. And that disbelief makes it hard for them to hear important messages about hot car dangers. They just don’t think the messages apply to them.

Kids and Car Safety wants us to know: “In most situations this happens to the most loving, caring and protective parents…It can happen to anyone.” Their advice for making sure your child is never left alone in a car:

  • Make it a habit to open the back door every time you park.
  • Place the child’s diaper bag or item in the front passenger seat as a visual cue that the child is with you.
  • Ask your childcare provider to call you right away if your child hasn’t arrived as scheduled.
  • Make sure children can’t get into a parked car. Keep vehicles locked at all times, especially in the garage or driveway.

Get more safety tips.

‘When Everybody’s Watching the Kid, Then Nobody’s Watching’

Nicole Hughes has a crucial message for parents and other adults:  Don’t assume children are being supervised and kept safe from hazards just because there’s a lot of people around.

Hughes’ 3-year-old son drowned in a swimming pool after slipping out of a roomful of a dozen adults, half of whom were physicians.

“Without realizing it, subconsciously you’re letting your guard down when there’s a bunch of people around,” says Hughes, who now works with the American Academy of Pediatrics on water safety, in a New York Times article. “When ‘everybody’s watching the kid, then nobody’s watching.”

Her advice pertains not only to drowning prevention but to other summer injury hazards such as keeping children at least 3 feet away from grills and campfires.

Adults also need to remember that drowning remains a risk as children get older. Supervision is still essential, and no one should swim alone.

Check out more tips for safe swimming.

Fall Prevention Programs This Summer

Lifespan offers regular classes to help seniors and their families prevent falls.  Coming up this summer:


Thursdays, June 2 – August 5, 2022, 11-11:45 am. This class is held in-person at the Maplewood Rose Garden. Click here for more information and to register.


Irondequoit Recreation Center

Tuesdays, June 14 to August 23, 2022, 1-3 pm. Registration is required, can be completed through the Irondequoit Recreation Center and can be accessed here.


Lifespan Main Office

Tuesdays & Fridays, 3-3:45 pm, June 14-August 9, 2022.  Click here for more information and to register.


Lifespan Main Office.

Thursday, June 23, 2022, 1-2pm. A 1-hour panel discussion led by experts in the field of balance and preventing falls. Bring your fall-related questions, and get ready to feel empowered and enlightened! Click here for more information and to register.


Rush Firehouse, 1971 Rush Mendon Rd

Mondays & Thursdays, July 11- Aug 30, 2022, 9 – 9:45 am. Seated or standing. Sixteen 45-minute to 1-hour sessions, twice a week for 8 weeks or once a week for 16 weeks.  Registration is through the Town of Rush and can be accessed here. If you are having any difficulty registering, please email our Lifespan Health & Wellness program manager at

Interpreting services, translation services, and additional accommodations are available upon request (with advanced notice).

Servicios de interpretación disponibles con solicitud previa. Por favor, dejenos saber con anticipación. Favor de llamar (585) 244-8400 y marque 9.

A Window On Safety

It’s time to throw open the windows—but do so carefully. Windows rank as one of the top hidden hazards in our homes (Learn about the others here). An average of eight children age 5 and younger die and more than 3,300 are injured each year from falling out of windows (SafeKids Worldwide, 2022). The Window Safety Task Force provides these tips to help protect children from accidental window falls:

  • Don’t rely on insect screens to prevent a fall. Insect screens are designed to keep bugs out, not to keep children in the home.
  • When opening a window for ventilation, use those located out of a child’s reach. 
  • Supervise children to keep child’s play away from windows, balconies or patio doors. 
  • Avoid placing furniture near windows to prevent young children from climbing and gaining access to an open window.
  • Use only cordless window coverings or those with inaccessible cords in homes with young children. Free retrofit kits are available through the Window Covering Safety Council.

Don’t forget to look to windows when planning your home fire drill and emergency escape routes. You should plan two possible ways out of any room, especially bedrooms, in case the door can’t be used because of smoke or fire. That second exit is probably a window. Make sure the window can be opened, and practice doing so.