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Exploring Womanhood > Heart of the Home > Homemaking > Home Decorating

A Safe and Happy Christmas
by Colleen Moulding

As we all know many accidents happen in the home all year round, but at this time of year when there are often more people than usual in the house and we are more likely to be distracted by a friend dropping in or a phone call from a distant relative, it is more important than ever to take the extra care to ensure a safe and happy Christmas for our families and friends.

Christmas Trees
These soon become a fire hazard once they are drying out. Keep your tree in one of the specially designed containers that you can keep topped up with water, and be sure to place it well away from your heat source and from major traffic routes through your house. Cutting a couple of inches of the bottom of the trunk just before you take it indoors will help it take up water and stay fresh longer.

Candles
As pretty as they are, candles cause many house fires at this time of year. Keep candles well away from fresh or artificial Christmas trees and from hanging or draping decorations, curtains, table cloths, toys and most importantly, children. Never light real candles on a Christmas tree.

Cigarettes
Cigarettes frequently start house fires. If you or your guests are going to be smoking make sure that there are plenty of deep and solid ashtrays around. After a party or family gathering have a thorough search behind furniture, down the sides and between the cushions of sofas and in waste baskets for any carelessly discarded cigarette ends that could be smouldering there and start a fire later Make sure that the contents of ashtrays are completely safe before emptying. Do not allow your guests to smoke in bed.

Fragranced Oil Burners
Another item that has become very popular recently, but can be dangerous if not used sensibly. Make sure that they are topped up with water, not left unattended and in a place where they cannot be knocked over by children or pets. They can also get very hot at the base, I know someone who left one on top of their television and it melted the casing.

Electrical Safety
At this time of year especially it is very easy to overload your electrical system. Try not to use extension leads and adaptor plugs, ideally each appliance should be plugged into it's own socket. Check for frayed or damaged wires on your seasonal electrical items. Outside lights look lovely but can be a hazard to your visitors if they have not been installed correctly. Have them checked by a qualified electrician if you are not 100% sure of their safety.

Smoke Alarms
Test all your smoke alarms before the holidays and buy in spare batteries. It has been well documented that smoke alarms really do save lives so if you know someone who doesn't have alarms in their home, especially housebound or elderly relatives, wouldn't that be a fabulous gift from you to them, especially if you could arrange for installation too.

Heating
Keep portable heaters at least three feet away from any combustible items such as furniture, curtains etc. and well away from doorways and traffic routes. Be aware that the casings of some of these heaters can get hot to the touch and would burn a child or elderly person if they fell against it.

Poisons
Be very careful about plants and berries that children may put into their mouths, especially if they have fallen from the plant. Also be vigilant about leaving alcohol where young children could copy adults and drink it. Remember that perfumes and aftershaves are poisons too but could look very appealing to children.

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Cooking
While the kitchen is at it's busiest pay extra attention to safety issues. Do not wear loose clothing around the stove, especially loose or wide sleeves. Use oven mitts to move hot food and keep work surfaces clear so that you always have a space to put hot dishes down safely. Keep knives well away from children and be especially careful that they cannot get to kettles and kettle leads. Turn cooking pot handles away and try to use only the back burners while there are children around.

Unfortunately it only takes a moment's carelessness to turn a happy family gathering into a tragedy, but if we are all aware of the dangers we should be able to have a very happy and a very safe Christmas too.

Happy Christmas to you all!
© Colleen Moulding 2001

About the author: Colleen Moulding is a freelance writer from England where she has had many features on parenting, childcare, travel, the environment, the Internet and many more subjects published in national magazines and newspapers. She has also published a variety of women's and children's fiction. Her work frequently appears at many sites on the Internet and at her own site for women and children, All That Women Want.com, a magazine, web guide and resource for women everywhere. Why not drop by? It was made for you! Subscribe to the free monthly e-zine covering home and decorating, parenting, saving money, organizing, gardening, women's biz, health, recipes, relationships and more. Spend your five minutes peace with us. It was made for you! Subscribe by sending a blank e-mail to: allthatwomenwant-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

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