KEEPING YOUR HOUSE SAFE FOR KIDS-AND PETS-DURING THE HOLIDAYS

December tends to be a particularly busy and hectic month with all of its special events and celebrations. Most of us are already aware of a number of the potential dangers that present themselves during holiday preparations, but here are reminders of a few particularly geared towards keeping your children and pets safe.

Pretty decorations are enticing to big and little people alike—and frequently to our four-footed friends, as well. Many are fragile and breakable; some carry the threat of a potential shock or fire hazard; others can be poisonous.

Holly and mistletoe berries resemble candy, but they are toxic. Artificial snow and “flocking” can also look tasty. The fluid inside bubble lights may contain methylene chloride and small children may be tempted to sample the liquid, should one of them break.

“Angel Hair” is a spun glass decoration that looks deceptively soft to the touch, but can cause skin and eye irritation to both kids and to pets—and adults, as well!

Even edible items, left unattended, can be dangerous. Too many cookies or too much fudge or other holiday delights can lead to an upset stomach, or worse. Be sure to clean up immediately after hosting a holiday party. Leftover glasses of alcohol or food that has been sitting out overnight offers temptation to the youngest household members. Remember also that chocolate can be toxic to dogs and should be kept out of their reach.

Children should be warned to stay away from glass-fronted fireplaces and screens in front of a blazing yule log. Likewise, take care when using space heaters. It takes only a second for a burn-related disaster to occur. Remind your kids and any children who might be visiting to keep a safe distance from all of these, and monitor them closely, since—believe it or not—kids don’t always listen to their elders! And when you visit friends or family, keep in mind that other people’s homes may not be as child-friendly as yours.

Inventory your tree and all other decorations to see if any ornaments and other items present particular dangers. Children will naturally want to touch twinkling, flashing or moving objects. Teach them that extension cords and electric lights are no-nos. Burning candles should never be left unattended, especially when investigative youngsters are around.

Kitchens present their own set of challenges. Keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of tables and counters. Individual baking and cooking ingredients should be kept away from curious little hands eager to sample whatever might be available. Frozen meats should be defrosted slowly, in the refrigerator. And when handling raw poultry, remember to disinfect any surface it may come in contact with, including washing your hands thoroughly afterwards. Nothing puts a damper on a holiday celebration quite like a case of food poisoning.

Keep emergency numbers, such as fire department, police and the National Poison Help Line (1-800-222-1222) posted in convenient, easy-to-reach spots for you and for anyone who might be watching the kids while you are away.

Take that extra step to make sure that your holiday celebrating remains a joyous—and safe—occasion for everyone involved. And remember to take time to step back, relax, and enjoy time with friends and family in the midst of everything happening around you.

Remember, too, that your local Handyman Matters office stands ready to assist with holiday decorating as well as all remodel, restore and repair projects taking place around your home.