Late November through early January can be the most joyous time of the year — and a dangerous one. With new toys and decorations entering your home, there are many things that could send you (or your guests) to the emergency room. Here are some tips to having a happy, healthy and safe holiday, from Ivan Miller, MD, Director of Emergency Medicine at Westchester Medical Center, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and MidHudson Regional Hospital, all members of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth).
- Avoid fire hazards. To stay safe while staying toasty, consult a chimney sweep for an inspection every year. Ensure your gas fireplace has a protective screen over the glass front to avoid burns — flames can reach 1,300 degrees. When you’re stringing lights, watch for exposed or frayed wiring, loose connections or broken sockets. Finally, never light candles near trees or curtains and never leave them unattended.
- Don’t eat the wrong greens: Poinsettias can spruce up your home, but they can also poison children and pets. Program into your phone the national Poison Control Center phone number: 800.222.1222.
- Clear the clutter: Make sure no one trips on wrapping paper, decorations, toys or electrical cords. Also keep outdoor areas well-lit and walkways free of snow, puddles and ice. Your older guests will appreciate any steps you take that prevent slipping and falling.
- Throw out button batteries: Those found in LED lights or toys pose too much of a choking hazard; they resemble coins, pop out easily and can burn the esophagus if swallowed, causing serious injury or even death.
- Decorate safely: Use proper stepladders rather than scaling furniture for a boost. If you’re spraying artificial snow, follow directions to avoid irritating your lungs by inhaling. No matter what look you’re after, always decorate with the youngest children in mind. Place ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks toward the top of your tree, but also remember the lure of shiny decorations that lie out of reach: Furniture that’s improperly anchored can fall on and injure the curious.
Do you have a health-related question for a WMCHealth physician or specialist? Email your questions to [email protected], with “Just the Facts” in the subject heading. Your question may be featured in a future issue.