Holiday safety checklist -- for a jolly season in every way!

by Melissa Jaramillo

Holiday safety checklistToday, we bring you an alert from the emergency broadcast system....

Perhaps that's a slight exaggeration but checklists are a great way to make sure you've taken care of everything.

Safety during the holidays is no exception. Help prevent injuries and accidents throughout this busy season!

Run through the list today. It will cut down on worry about holiday emergencies. Instead of a trip to ER, you can be wrapping up gifts, mulling your cider and setting cookies out for Santa.

Holiday safety checklist

Deck the halls -- safely

Christmas trees: If you're decorating a real tree, test that it's fresh. Before buying, tap its trunk on the ground. Very few needles should fall off. Once you bring it in, keep the stand filled with water.

When you buy an artificial tree, check that it's flame retardant. Place away from any heat source, including your fireplace. Make sure your tree will stay standing, with wires if necessary.

Lights and ornaments:
• Look over new and old sets for broken or cracked sockets, frayed wires and loose connections
• When purchasing, look on the label that they've been checked for safety by an independent laboratory
• Follow the recommendations and limit the number of strings per extension cord.
• Turn out the lights when you go to bed or leave home.

Ornaments and tinsel can be dangerous for small kids and pets. You can have a home that's cozy, welcoming and safe!

• Put sharp or breakable ornaments away from the lower branches or dont' use them.
• Mistletoe, holly and poinsettas can be poisonous. Keep them out of reach of pets and kids.
• Run extension cords around the outside of the room and tape them down to avoid tripping.
• Will you be using fake snow in the windows? The fumes can be harmful, follow the instructions carefully when applying.
• Keep candles away from the tree or other flammable dé or use LED lights instead of an open flame.

Kitchen and food safety

With spare cooks in the kitchen and a tight schedule, accidents can happen. A few simple steps can reduce the risk.

• Ensure that all equipment functions properly.
• Keep pot and pan handles facing inward and toward the back of the stove.
• Keep flammable items away from the burners
• Install an anti-tip bracket on your oven
• Give the younger kids an activity out of the busy work zone

Food safety: The holidays center around festive buffets and overflowing dinner tables. With so much food put out, food-borne contamination can result in sometimes serious illness.

Most food poisoning only causes stomach cramps, vomiting and a day or two of diarrhea, but even mild symptoms can put a damper on seasonal fun. Follow these holiday food safety tips and keep healthy over the holidays.

Safe and sane gifting:

Watching kids tear into presents and seeing their delight at a new toy rocks many parents' and grandparents' world on Christmas morning. An injury does not. To prevent gift-related problems:

• Choose age-appropriate games and toys
• Check your stash against the toy recall list
• Read the warnings and precautions
• Furnish additional safety equipment if needed
• Inspect gifts as they're opened for loose bits and breaks
• Remove and dispose of packaging and gift-wrap
• Keep track of gifts that might pose a choking danger

Unfortunately, every holiday season we see celebrations marred by preventable mishaps. What threat surprised you most?

Photo courtesy iStockphoto.