Holiday Safety

Holiday Poison Danger

Some Christmas plants may be hazardous to your health. The following plants are poisonous and should be kept out of the reach of small children and family pets.

Holly: The berries and leaves of holly plants are poisonous. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and slowed breathing/heart rate can occur after ingesting holly berries or leaves.

Jerusalem Cherry: The entire plant, which contains bright orange/red berries, is toxic. It contains a chemical called solanine, which can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, headache, seizures, respiratory depression, irregular heartbeat, and possibly death.

Mistletoe: Mistletoe is extremely toxic. The berries of this plant contain substances that can affect the central nervous system, blood pressure, and heart rate.

American Bittersweet: All parts of this plant are toxic, with the berries containing the highest concentration of solanine (the same chemical found in the Jerusalem Cherry).

Contrary to popular belief, the Poinsettia Plant is not poisonous. It is possible to experience redness or irritation if the eyes are rubbed after handling the leaves of this plant; however, claims that it is toxic are not supported.

Christmas Tree Safety

Even though much is written and said about Christmas Tree safety, every year, homes are burned, and lives are lost because of Christmas Tree fires. Remember these Christmas Tree safety rules:

* Keep live trees well-watered and clear of heat sources and paths of travel.

* Check tree lights for frayed wires and loose sockets.

* Only use lights listed by an approved testing laboratory.

* Use only non-flammable, fire resistant decorations.

* When a live tree becomes dry and needles begin to fall off, discard it promptly.

* Unplug the holiday lights before leave home or retiring for the evening.

Using Candles Safely

Candles are safe when used properly. When burning candles, always remember it is an open flame and can easily ignite nearby combustible items.

The Fire Department recommends observing the following safety tips when burning candles:

* Always keep candles away from things that can easily catch fire (i.e., paper, curtains, bedding, decorations, etc.).

* Use sturdy holders than won't easily fall over. Be sure they are made of a non- combustible material and are large enough to catch dripping wax.

* Always burn candles in well-ventilated areas.

* Place lit candles in locations out of the reach of children and pets and where they can't be easily knocked over.

* Trim wicks to 1/4 inch before lighting as long wicks can cause uneven burning and dripping.

* During a power outage, it is recommended you use a flashlight to see. If you must use candles, try to avoid carrying them around and never use a candle as light when looking for something in drawers or closets.

* Never leave a candle burning unattended and always extinguish candles before leaving a room or going to sleep.