As you make your holiday to-do list, be sure it includes this important task: Take steps to stay safe.
Celebrations that make this time of year so festive also bring hazards, from dangerous decorations to poisonous plants. Here's how to keep you and your family—pets included—out of harm's way:
1. Step up carefully. Use a step stool or ladder to place decorations in high places.
2. Be cautious with candles. Always keep them at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn. Don't forget to blow them out when you leave the room. And keep candles on stable surfaces and out of the reach of children and pets.
3. Check holiday lights. Take a close look to find any exposed or frayed wires, loose connections, or broken sockets.
4. Trim trees with kids and pets in mind. Keep breakable ornaments or those with metal hooks near the top of the tree—and away from curious little ones and animals.
5. Fireproof your tree too. Live trees dry out rapidly. So keep the stand filled with water. Turn off all tree lights and decorations when not in use. And keep your tree away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters.
6. Watch out for potentially poisonous plants. Keep mistletoe berries, holly berry and Jerusalem cherry out of reach of tots and pets. Better still: Opt for festive artificial plants. In a poison emergency call the national Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
7. Match toys to kids' ages. Always take the time to check packages for age ranges. Toys above a child's age level may be hazardous.
8. Don't forget the helmet. If you're surprising a child with a bike, skateboard or other riding toy, be sure to include a helmet.
9. Protect your family and guests from food poisoning. Reheat holiday leftovers to at least 165 degrees to keep dangerous bacteria from multiplying.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; Safe Kids Worldwide