Most families consider their pets part of their family, and we love sharing holidays with family. But many holiday traditions can be harmful to our four-legged family members. The American Kennel Club provides these tips:
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.
The Animal Poison Control Hotline reminds us that: “While poinsettias are commonly “hyped” as poisonous plants, they rarely are, and the poisoning is greatly exaggerated…medical treatment is rarely necessary unless clinical signs are severe.” Still, you’ll want to avoid the “mild signs of vomiting, drooling, or rarely, diarrhea” that can occur when it’s ingested, so keep these and other holiday plants out of reach of pets.
Thanksgiving is a peak day for gathering with family and friends. Unfortunately, it’s also the peak day for home cooking fires. Maybe that’s not surprising, considering that the major cause of home fires is cooking—a big part of Thanksgiving activities. In fact, Thanksgiving has three times the average number of home fires involving cooking equipment as all other days of the year.
The U.S. Fire Administration offers these tips for a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking – frying, broiling or boiling – at high temperatures.
Make your cooking area safe. Move things that can burn away from the stove. Turn pot handles toward the back so they can’t be bumped.
Watch what you’re cooking. Use a timer when roasting a turkey or baking.
Be prepared. Keep a large pan lid or baking sheet handy in case you need to smother a pan fire.
Stay awake and alert while you’re cooking. If you see smoke or the grease starts to boil in your pan, turn the burner off.
Prevent burns. Wear short sleeves when you cook, or roll them up. Don’t lean over the burner. Use potholders and oven mitts to handle hot cookware.
Keep young children at least 3 feet away from the stove, oven or any place where hot food or drink is being prepared or carried. Keep hot foods and liquids away from table and counter edges.
USFA also wants you to know about turkey fryers:
Turkey fryers can easily tip over, spilling hot cooking oil over a large area.
An overfilled cooking pot will spill cooking oil when the turkey is put in, and a partially frozen turkey will splatter cooking oil when put in the pot.
Even a small amount of cooking oil spilling on a hot burner can cause a large fire.
Without thermostat controls, deep fryers can overheat oil to the point of starting a fire.
The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles can get dangerously hot.
Swimming can be one of the great joys of a child’s summer. But its important to be vigilant around water, and not just at the beach. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children 14 and under. And for children ages 1 to 4 its the leading cause. The majority of drownings and near-drownings occur in residential swimming pools (Foundation for Aquatic Injury Prevention).
Keep young swimmers safe with a few simple rules:
Lifeguards aren’t babysitters. Keep an eye on your kids, and never leave a child alone near water, whether on the beach or at a pool.
Enroll children older than age three in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors. But keep in mind that lessons don’t make your child “drown-proof.”
Always follow posted safety precautions when visiting water parks.
Many people don’t think of sparklers as a hazard, and readily hand them to children. In the states that permit their sale, sparklers and some other fireworks of comparable strength such as party poppers have been labeled “safe and sane” by their advocates. But the National Fire Protection Association flatly states: “safe and sane” fireworks are neither.
Sparklers throw off showers of hot sparks, and their temperatures can exceed 1200º F. Sparklers caused 24% of hospital emergency room visits for fireworks-related injuries—the largest of any single type of fireworks.
“Children are getting burned with sparklers. Around the 4th of July is the busiest time for hospitals for children and burns, whether they are burns to the hands or whether they are stepping on the sparklers when they are still hot on the ground,” said Brian McQueen, Director of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) in a news report from WKTV following the recent legislation legalizing the use of sparklers and other Class C fireworks in New York.
July 4 is a glorious American celebration. Unfortunately, it’s also by far the day of the year that produces the most US fires. Fireworks account for two out of five of those fires—an average of 19,700 fires every year.
Apart from fires they may start, fireworks themselves can cause serious injuries: between 8,500 and 9,800 injuries annually.
In this video a family gives their first-hand account of a consumer fireworks incident and the impact it continues to have on their lives
The Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks, a group of health and safety organizations coordinated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), urges the public to avoid the use of consumer fireworks and instead, to enjoy displays of fireworks conducted by trained professionals.
“When things go wrong with fireworks, they typically go very wrong very fast, far faster than any fire protection can reliably respond,” states the NFPA Fire Analysis and Research report Fireworks. Children and fireworks are an especially dangerous combination: “Children can move too fast and be badly hurt too quickly if they are close to fireworks, as they inevitably are at home fireworks displays.”
Tornadoes, floods, thunderstorm winds, and lightning, can be deadly for the unprepared. The Storm Prediction Center of the National Weather Services issues about 1,000 Severe Thunderstorm Watches and Tornado Watches every year.
Take these tips from the National Weather Service:
If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and very dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it — and keep children and animals away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 911.
No place OUTSIDE is safe in or near a thunderstorm. In 2014, there were 26 lightning fatalities – six in Florida alone. Stop what you are doing and get to a safe place immediately if:
You hear thunder. If you hear thunder it’s a safe bet the storm is within 10 miles. Since a significant lightning threat extends outward from the base of a thunderstorm cloud about 6 to 10 miles, so you should be in a safe place when a thunderstorm is 10 miles away.
You see lightning. The ability to see lightning varies depending on the time of day, weather conditions, and obstructions such as trees, mountains, etc. In clear air, and especially at night, lightning can be seen from storms more than 10 miles away provided that obstructions don’t limit the view of the thunderstorm.
In a tornado:
Flying debris is the greatest danger, so store protective coverings (e.g., mattress, sleeping bags, thick blankets, etc) in or next to your shelter space, ready to use on a few seconds’ notice
Forget about the old notion of opening windows to equalize pressure during a tornado. Avoid windows and use your time to get to your shelter space. Learn more about tornado safety.
Any time you come to a flooded road:
Whether driving or walking Turn Around Don’t Drown®. It only takes 12 inches of water to carry off a small vehicle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. Don’t underestimate the force and power of water!
Storms in any season can leave your home without power. Use these tips from the Red Cross and National Fire Protection Association to stay safe at home:
Never use your oven to heat your home. An open door on either a gas or electric oven creates a burn hazard, and with windows sealed against the cold and an open door, the oven can produce a concentrated exposure to carbon monoxide.
Make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
Keep fire hydrants on your street free of snow.
Make sure all fuel-burning equipment vents to the outside and is kept clear. They give off carbon monoxide (CO) which can build up and is odorless and invisible.
Use a generator only in a well-ventilated location outdoors (not in a garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area) and away from windows, doors and vent openings.
If you use a wood stove or pellet stove for heating, burn only the materials for which your stove is designed. Never burn charcoal indoors, which can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide
Have both smoke alarms and CO detectors with battery back-ups in your home, ideally in the hallway near the bedrooms in each sleeping area and on every floor.
Put together a supply kit that includes flashlights and extra batteries. Keep a flashlight and phone by your bed within easy reach.
If you have no other choice than candles for lighting, be sure everyone knows the rules for safe candle use.
Maintain all heating equipment and have chimneys cleaned and inspected every year.
When you change your clocks for Daylight Saving Time, don’t forget to test your alarms as well (even those that are hard-wired or have long-life batteries). Having a working smoke alarm reduces your chances of dying in a fire by nearly half.
Don’t stop there. Now is the time to be sure everyone in your home knows what to do and how to get out and stay out when the alarm goes off. Learn:
As the weather turns colder, many people will turn to alternate home heating sources, either because they have no central heating, to supplement central heating, or to keep down their heating fuel costs. Space heaters are a very popular way to do this.
Heating equipment is involved in more than 64,000 home structure fires every year, which cause 540 civilian deaths. Space heaters, whether stationary or portable, account for three-quarters of these deaths.
To keep yourself and your family both warm and safe, follow these simple tips:
Keep anything that can burn—paper, bedding, clothing or furniture—at least 3 feet away from the heater. Having combustibles too close to heat source is the leading factor contributing to home heating fires.
Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
Keep children away from space heaters, especially when they’re wearing night gowns or other loose clothing that can easily catch fire.
With electrical heaters, make sure the circuit isn’t overloaded. Choose an extension cord the same size or larger than the appliance electrical cord.
Keep electrical heaters well away from water.
Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions
December is the darkest month. The nights are longest, and in many locations December is also the cloudiest month, making the days seem even shorter. No wonder we jump at the chance to light up the winter holidays. Candles bring a warm glow to the rooms where we gather. Electric lights are used indoors on mantles, doorways and Christmas trees as well outdoors in colorful displays.
Our desire to light the darkness is, unfortunately, a big reason why December is also the peak month for candle fires. And overloaded circuits contribute to electrical fires.
A few simple precautions can help keep the holidays a season of joy.
Prevent Candle Fires
Consider flameless battery-operated candles, which are becoming very widely available, give a realistic glow, and can last longer than flaming candles.
Put out all candles before everyone leaves the room. Almost one in five home candle fires starts by candles left unattended. A tip from the American Red Cross: Designate one person to walk around your home to make sure all candles (and smoking materials) are extinguished after guests leave.
Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that might burn. Nearly a quarter of candle fires start when combustible materials are left or came too close to a candle. That includes furniture, bedding, curtains, and decorations.
Place lighted candles out of reach of children, and remind them that, like matches and lighters, candles are tools for adults only. During the winter holiday season, an average of 40 home fires a day are caused by children playing.
Be especially vigilant on major holidays, when candles can combine with the distraction of festivities. Christmas is the peak day for candle fires, with almost three times as many fires started by candles as the daily average.
Prevent Electrical Fires
Make sure light strings and all electrical decorations are in good condition before you put them up. Don’t use anything with frayed electrical cords.
Don’t staple or nail through light strings or cords.
Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
Avoid overloading outlets. Flickering lights, tripped circuit breakers, and blown fuses are warning signs. Don’t ignore them – unplug!