|Everyone in the McMechen Volunteer Fire Department family wishes you and your family a happy and safe holiday season and a happy new year.|
As you celebrate this joyous season, we ask that you remember the following safety precautions:
- When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
- When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators, or portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
- Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
- Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant."
- Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. To hold lights in place, we recommend purchasing plastic holders designed for this purpose. As an alternative, string them through hooks or insulated staples. Never use nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
- Check all tree lights—even if you've just purchased them—before hanging them on your tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets, or loose connections.
- Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) to avoid potential shocks.
- Always turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
- Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree.
- Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
- In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.
- Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair." Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.
- Remove all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose choking and suffocation risks to children, and they can easily catch fire. They should be disposed of in your recycling bin, not burned in the fireplace.
- Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.
- Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully.
- To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don't give young children (under age 10) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
- Children under age 3 can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age 3 cannot have parts less than 1-1/4 inches in diameter and 2-1/4 inches long.
- Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length as they can be a strangulation hazard for babies.
- Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
- Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed.
- Keep a laminated list with all of the important phone numbers you or a baby-sitter are likely to need in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department (always call 911 if it’s an emergency), your pediatrician, and the national Poison Help Line, 1-800-222-1222.
- Traveling, visiting family members, getting presents, shopping, etc., can all increase your child's stress levels. Trying to stick to your child's usual routines, including sleep schedules and timing of naps, can help you and your child enjoy the holidays and reduce stress.
- Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
- Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.