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Deck the halls (safely)

Last Modified: 5/22/2018

compendium_600x400_deckthehalls_lights_11_15.jpg PreviewFrom timeless evergreen garland to strands of twinkle lights, many of us will add festive holiday touches to our homes during the month ahead. Just in time for the yuletide festivities, Trauma Medical Director Raymond Cava, MD, FACS, Parkview Trauma Centers, offers some sound seasonal advice for those trimming the tree, hosting a gathering or illuminating their rooftop.

Parkview Trauma Center Holiday Safety Ideas


  • Make sure there are no frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets.*
  • Use no more than three light sets on one extension cord.**
  • Keep lights out of reach of children who may try to put them in their mouths.
  • If using lights outdoors, make sure they are certified for outdoor use.
  • Turn lights off before you leave or go to bed – they could short and start a fire.


  • When selecting a real tree, choose a freshly cut one where the needles are hard to pull from the branches. Cut 2 inches off the trunk and place in a sturdy, water-holding stand. Keep the tree watered so that the heat from bulbs doesn’t start a fire.
  • Do not place the tree near a fireplace, radiator or portable heater.***
  • If opting for an artificial tree, choose one that is “fire-resistant”. It should be labeled as such at the store.
  • Do not use electric lights on a metallic tree.

compendium_600x400_deckthehalls_tree_11_15.jpg Preview


  • Prevent falls: Use a proper step stool or ladder rather than a chair or other furniture to stand on.
  • Use a slip-resistant ladder and slip-resistant shoes; no bare feet or flip-flops.
  • Decorate the tree with flame-resistant materials.
  • Avoid sharp decorations if there will be small children in the home.

Meal Prep

  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure meat and other proteins are cooked to the correct temperature.
  • Thaw meat in the refrigerator and never on the counter.
  • Keep hot liquids away from counter edges and tables when there are small children in the home.
  • Clean up or dispose of your plate immediately to avoid small children getting a hold of large pieces of food that they could choke on or alcohol.


  • Give yourself plenty of time to shop for meals, decorations and gifts, and don’t feel pressured to overspend.
  • Plan a reasonable number of errands and focus on one thing at a time.
  • Encourage sobriety, but if you do plan to serve or consume alcohol, make sure to have a designated driver.
  • Keep household routines the same.
  • Enjoy the holidays with your family and friends.

*Safe Kids, 2013
**National Safety Council, 2015
***American Academy of Pediatrics, 2015


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