Holiday Decorating Tips with Children and Pets in Mind

While the holidays should be a time of joy, they can also pose dangers for young children and pets. The beautifully decorated Christmas tree with dangling ornaments and strings of colored lights; festive poinsettias and scented candles; bowls of Christmas candies; and garlands beautifying the hallways, tables and stairways can be potentially harmful to children and pets. Use these tips to keep family and guests safe and happy during the holiday season.

The Tree

When buying a real tree, select one as fresh as possible: needles will bend instead of break. Place it in a stand that holds water to prevent it from drying out. An artificial tree should be fire resistant; check the label or packaging. Whether the tree is real or artificial, don’t put it near a source of heat such as a fireplace or radiator.

Choose decorations that won’t become potential choking hazards. Skip the metallic icicle tinsel, since young children and pets can choke if they try to swallow it.

Avoid using retro Christmas decorations like angel hair or bubble lights – they can have a toxic effect on kids and the family pet.

Dangly ornaments are a temptation for toddlers and cats alike. Reserve these beauties for the higher branches.

Since dogs especially like to jump up, if possible, place a screen around the tree to keep pets away. This will also help deter little ones from pulling or grabbing.

Potentially Poisonous

Decorate your home with artificial holly, poinsettia plants, mistletoe and pine cones. The real versions can be harmful to young children and pets if accidentally ingested.

Skip spraying windows and mirrors with fake snow if they are accessible to children. Don’t use flocking or imitation snow on the tree or centerpieces.

When young children are around, don’t leave drinks unattended. Kids and pets can be very susceptible to alcohol poisoning.

Incidents of food poisoning rise noticeably during the holidays. Remember simple food safety rules like putting food away in a timely manner and wiping the counter after spilled egg or raw chicken.

Chocolate and cheese can be toxic for animals. Cats and dogs can easily choke on small bones. While pastries, cookies and cakes might not necessarily be toxic, they can play havoc with a pet’s digestive system.

Lights and Candles

Ensure all decorative lighting, including the strings of lights on the tree, meet current safety standards.

Even if the lights were bought just a year ago, check to see if they are in good working order. One damaged bulb can make the whole strand unsafe.

Don’t overload extension cords and power bars. If cords have to cross open floors or a doorway, secure them with tape. Never run an extension cord under a rug.

Never place candles on a low table or leave them burning unattended.