Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Greg Stumbo and Cabinet for Health and Family Services Post Holiday Safety Guidelines

Press Release Date:  Friday, December 21, 2007  
Contact Information:  Corey Bellamy, 502-696-5643 Office  


Attorney General Greg Stumbo and the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) are urging shoppers to take a few minutes this holiday season to think about safety when making holiday purchases.

 “We are pleased to partner with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) to educate consumers on dangerous toys and other holiday products,” said Stumbo. “We want all Kentuckians to be aware of product safety measures and recall information that could prevent potential injuries and quite possibly save lives.”

 ”We want the holidays to be as safe and happy as possible and encourage families to take time to follow some simple safety guidelines about toys, trees, lights and decorations,” said William Hacker, M.D., public health commissioner for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. “Our staff, along with the Office of the Attorney General, are working together to make sure all Kentuckians are aware of potential product dangers and have access to agencies that maintain lists of recalled items.”

 The two offices will post federal updates on their web sites to increase awareness.  To learn more, visit www.chfs.ky.gov and www.ag.ky.gov/consumer

 To stay updated on the most recent safety tips, check with the Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC, www.cpsc.gov, maintains a list of toys, decorations and other products that have been recalled or ordered removed from store shelves for safety and health reasons. You may also visit www.recall.gov. DPH and the Office of the Attorney General also provide the following information for this holiday season:

Toy Safety

  • Follow recommended age ranges on toy packages. Toys that are too advanced could be a safety hazard for younger children.
  • Read instructions carefully before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy received as a gift. If the toy is appropriate for your child, show him or her how to use it properly.
  • Be careful with gift bags, wrapping paper, ribbons and bows. These items can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child.
  • Be aware that children age 3 and younger can choke on small toys and toy parts with a diameter of one and three-quarters of an inch or smaller.
  • Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children. Children younger than 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons. Watch for pull toys with strings longer than 12 inches, which can be a strangulation hazard for babies.

Trees

  • Look for "fire resistant" on the label when purchasing an artificial tree. Although this label does not mean the tree won't catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
  • Check live trees for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
  • Place fresh and artificial trees away from fireplaces, radiators, portable heaters, candles and other heat or open-flame sources. Keep the tree stand filled with water.
  • To expose fresh wood, cut a few inches off the trunk of your live tree before bringing it inside. This allows for better water absorption and will help keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard as quickly.

Lights

  • Use only lights tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory. Use only lights that have fused plugs.
  • Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets. Always replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs.
  • Plug in no more than three standard-size sets of lights to a single extension cord. Make sure the extension cord is rated for the intended use.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
  • Check labels on outdoor lights to be sure they are certified for outdoor use.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, buildings or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples to hold strings in place.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
  • For added electric shock protection, plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).

Decorations

  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • Take special care to avoid sharp or breakable decorations, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children and pets to prevent choking, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food.
  • Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair." Follow product directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.

Annually, hospital emergency rooms treat about 12,800 people for injuries, such as falls, cuts and shocks, related to holiday lights, decorations and Christmas trees. In addition, 13,000 candle-related fires are reported each year, resulting in 140 deaths, 1,300 injuries and $205 million in property loss. Christmas trees are involved in about 300 fires annually.

For more information, visit the Kentucky Department for Public Health at www.chfs.ky.gov/dph  or call (502) 564-4856; or the Office of the Attorney General at www.ag.ky.gov or (502) 696-5300.