Safe holiday decorating

Decorating your home for the holiday season seems to have become a national pastime in the Cayman Islands. Lights and ornaments seem to adorn every window, door, railing, tree and open spot in every yard all over, lending a festive atmosphere to the islands. However, holiday decorations can have a dark side if the safety of pets and children is not taken into account.

Cords are not chew toys
Whether you are dealing with pets or toddlers, sometimes they will get into the cords when you’re not looking. Cords can also suffer wear and tear every holiday season. Carefully inspect holiday light strings yearly and discard any with frayed cords, cracked lamp holders or loose connections. Ensuring that all holiday decorations are in proper working order and all cords are fully insulated are important steps to avoiding electrical and fire hazards and keeping pets safe when you’re away.

Up, up and away
When decorating a tree or other indoor areas, place breakable ornaments and electrical decorations up high to protect both small children and pets. It’s also important to keep potentially deadly ingestible items out of pets’ reach, such as chocolate, poinsettias, tinsel and colourful ornaments that may look like a ball or toy.

Fresh or fake, be safe
If you buy a real tree, make sure it’s fresh. Fresh trees are less likely to dry out and become a fire hazard. Artificial trees with electrical lights should have a certification mark on them and should be made of fire-resistant materials. Pet owners or those with small children should tether their Christmas tree to a wall to avoid tipping.

No sparks for Sparky
Whenever possible, protect family and pets from electric shock by connecting all outdoor lighting into receptacles protected by weatherproof ground fault circuit interrupters.

Holiday time is battery time
Make the holidays your time to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and other safety devices and replace batteries if needed.

Cat and canine candle concerns
Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface, and keep away from combustibles. And if you leave the room, blow the candle out.

Safe storage
After the holidays, wrap and store lights and decorations in their original packaging, as they likely contain manufacturer’s instructions on replacement bulbs and details for proper product use. Keep pets away from packages as well as your gift wrapping area. Swallowed string, ribbon, plastic, and even wrapping paper can lead to intestinal blockage and require a trip to the vet. WH

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