'Tis the season to be careful. Each year emergency departments treat about 10,800 people for injuries related to holiday decorations, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The following are potential hazards and recommendations for safe use:

Trees pose a fire hazard that leads to 400 residential fires and nearly 40 deaths and 100 injuries each year.

  • When choosing a real tree, find one that is fresh, green and has a trunk sticky with resin. Place the tree in a sturdy stand that holds water to keep it from drying out quickly, and keep the stand filled. Cut a few inches of trunk off the tree to expose fresh wood to allow better water absorption. Keep the tree far from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters.

  • Make sure the tree does not get in the way of doorways.

  • Choose artificial trees labeled “fire resistant.”

To prevent electrocution or shock:

  • use indoor and outdoor lights in their specified locations;

  • string lights with insulated staples or hooks, not with nails or tacks;

  • never pull lights to remove them;

  • never use electric lights on a metallic tree;

  • turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house; and

  • check sockets, wires and connections, and replace or repair any damaged items.

Ornaments can pose a choking hazard.

  • Avoid placing breakable ornaments or those with small or sharp parts in places where small children can reach them.

  • Avoid trimmings that resemble edible items when small children are present,because they may be tempted to eat them.

• Remove all gift-wrap items from near the fireplace and tree after opening gifts.

  • Never use lighted candles near trees or other evergreens.

  • Always use non-flammable candle-holders.

  • Put candles in places where they will not be knocked down.

Many holiday plants can cause severe stomach problems if eaten. These include: mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis. Keep dangerous plants out of children's reach and away from pets.

Spun glass “angel hair” can irritate eyes and skin; use gloves when handling.

Artificial snow sprays can irritate lungs if inhaled, so be sure to follow instructions.

  • Select toys appropriate for child's age, skills and interests.

  • Read instructions carefully before allowing children to play with toys.

  • Do not give children under age 10 toys that need to be plugged in. Instead give battery-operated items.

  • Children under 3 can choke on small parts; follow government regulations on gifts for these children.

  • Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons.

  • Watch for toys with strings longer than 12 inches; they can pose a strangulation hazard for babies.

  • Make sure the flue is open and remove nearby decorations before lighting.

  • Fire salts that produce colored flames can cause gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if ingested. Keep away from children.

  • Do not burn wrapping paper.

  • Fully cook meats, and thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables.

  • Keep hot items away from table edges.

  • Wash children's and your own hands frequently.

  • Wash spoons used to taste food before putting them into food again.

  • Keep raw and cooked foods separate and use different utensils with them.

  • Thaw meat in the refrigerator not on the countertop.

  • Foods that require refrigeration should not be left at room temperature more than two hours.

  • Clean up immediately after a holiday party. Children can get into leftover food or alcohol and choke or suffer alcohol poisoning.

— Arti Allam