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Enjoy the Christmas holidays

The Christmas holiday time should be a happy time. It's also a time when you need to be especially safety-conscious. If you use a real tree, be sure that you get one as fresh as possible. Your tree may be cut up to a month before you buy it. Bounce the trunk against the ground: not many needles should fall off.

Cover the tree to transport it home to minimize drying.

Once home, cut an inch or two off the trunk and place it in a bucket of warm water to drink overnight. Your tree stand should hold at least a gallon.

Replenish the water every day. Place the tree away from heat sources such as a fireplace, heat vent or TV.

Check old strings of lights carefully for chipped sockets

and frayed wires. Throw away any that are badly damaged.

When buying new lights, be sure they carry the UL approved label. Don't leave any bulb sockets empty, and mount the lights so that no bulbs touch foliage,

fabric or cotton.

All decorations used should be fireproof. Don't use more than 3 sets of lights on one extension cord and put the connections out of reach and wrap them

with electrical tape to keep them from disconnecting.

Place cords out of traffic areas and don't run cords under rugs. Unplug all lights on trees and other decorations at the socket before you leave the house or go to bed.

Avoid placing breakable ornaments or ornaments with

small detachable parts on lower branches where small

children or pets can reach them.

When you're entertaining, keep guests out of the kitchen. Confusion is a perfect recipe for an accident. Prepare as many foods ahead of time as you can. And get help to take a big turkey, ham or roast out of the oven. If you are using alcohol burners for dips, buffet dishes, etc. be careful. Center the pot on a fair-sized table so it can't be knocked off. Put it on a metal or fire-resistant pad.

Don't fill alcohol burners too full: the fuel expands when hot and can spill flaming liquid on the tablecloth. Gifts can be dangerous, too. Watch out for playthings that

have points, sharp edges or removable parts, especially for little children. Popular "rocket" and shooting toys can put out an eye. Give them only to older children who can understand their danger. Supervise them until you're sure they understand the

potential for injury. Make sure any electrical gifts have

the UL label. No toys with heating elements for children

under 8 years old.

After unwrapping the gifts, don't use the fireplace for an

incinerator. Don't burn wrappings or evergreen branches there. These can burn suddenly and rapidly, throwing off sparks and burning debris. Keep a screen in front of your fireplace any time a fire is burning. Have a happy

and safe

holiday season!