Stay safe this holiday season

Christmas is nearly upon us, and many here in Pittsburg are either
preparing for holiday guests or making lists and packing to visit
distant friends and relatives.

In all the excitement, it’s easy to overlook some basic safety tips.
They’re especially important if you have small children or pets in
your home – or if you’re expecting them during the holidays.

The tree: Ensure that the tree is firmly on its stand and will not tip
over if tugged on by an excited child or dog – or climbed by a
curious feline. If necessary, use a strong cord to anchor it to the

Before you drape those lights on the tree (or anywhere else) check to
see that no cords are frayed – or chewed. Some critters are drawn to
the plastic coating on electrical cords.

Be mindful of glass ornaments. When chewed by an ambitious dog or
child, they can lead to a trip to the emergency room. Keep them out of
reach! And… keep watch for ornaments that have fallen and broken.

Floral arrangements: We all know that small children and pets can’t
seem to resist putting things into their mouths, so be cautious.

You’ve probably always heard that Poinsettias are toxic. They are.
However, they probably won’t kill your children or pets because they
taste so bad that most won’t ingest enough to do permanent damage,
though it can cause nausea and vomiting.

The pesticides that may have been sprayed on those Poinsettias is far
worse than the plants themselves. This poison is especially dangerous
for small pets, puppies, and kittens. Reactions include seizures,
coma, and in some cases, death.

Holly and mistletoe are more toxic than poinsettias. In fact, some
animal health practitioners recommend keeping them out of your house
entirely if you have pets. Mistletoe can cause severe drops in blood
pressure, hallucinations, breathing problems, seizures, and even

More dangers: Lilies, daffodils, and amaryllis. Toxic to both dogs and
cats, they can be lethal for cats.

The tree itself: Yes, it’s mildly toxic, but since the oils burn a
pet’s mouth, they aren’t apt to ingest much. If they do, the
needles can cause gastrointestinal irritation and obstruction, and
even intestinal punctures.

The greater danger is from the water – this can quickly turn toxic,
especially if the tree had been fertilized or if you had a freshening
agent to the water. Just a few laps can result in a sick animal, so
take steps to prevent pets from drinking from the tree stand.

The danger to your home and possessions: If you’re going out of
town, tell only those who must know. For instance, your next-door
neighbor, your pet sitter, your parents or children, and any clients
who might be expecting to see you.

Vacant homes at Christmastime are a magnet for thieves, so get someone
to retrieve your mail and/or newspapers every