The holidays bring their own set of safety concerns. Some risks are obvious, others not as much.

Fires are dangerous year-round, but especially during the holidays. Make sure your fireplace and furnace have clear exhaust routes. A blockage in the chimney or furnace vent can result in a carbon monoxide buildup that can be fatal.

Make sure stovetops have pan and pot handles turned away from the edge. With gas stoves make sure the burners are clean before use and clean spills, especially grease, promptly.

Make sure your live Christmas tree is properly watered. If it dries out there is a potential fire hazard.

If you use a fireplace never leave it unattended. Make sure the fire is completely out before retiring in the evening.

If you do not have smoke detectors, consider getting one for every level of your house. Some fire departments give out free detectors.

Pets also need attention. People coming and going may lead to your beloved pet becoming agitated and running out of the open door. Also, keep track of what your pets may eat. The pet that grabs and eats the turkey carcass on TV is funny only because you don’t hear about the vet bill that follows. Also, Christmas cookies and other goodies may look good to your pet but lead to digestive issues. Cleaning up after a sick animal is not the way to spend the holidays. Remember, too, that dogs eating chocolate is a potentially fatal recipe.

Decorations can cause problems. Holiday lights running for many hours each day and raising your electricity bill could be the least of your problems. Pets and small children may be eager to play with holiday decorations and ornaments on the Christmas tree; be careful where you put poisonous holiday plants like poinsettias and breakable holiday decorations. Place dangerous decorations in hard-to-reach locations to keep everyone safe and place fragile ornaments where they can be admired, but not accidentally broken.

Make sure your tree stand is firmly placed. Small children trying to reach an ornament (think candy cane) could tip the tree over.

The popular laser lights that point at homes creating a display are pretty from a distance, but children and adults can damage their eyes looking directly into the lights.

Any sort of cord, indoors or out, should be placed and possibley covered to prevent a child or pet from becoming entangled. Remember — never overload an outlet! Too many plugs in one outlet can result in sparks that result in a fire.

Unfortunately, the holiday season brings with it an increase in heart attack cases. Poor diet, excess eating, binge drinking, cold weather, and of course money, or lack thereof, all are stressful. Try to keep a normal sleep and exercise routine.

The holiday season presents a present for burglars. Boxes left at the door, presents under the tree, and holiday travels have burglars in every neighborhood waiting for the right moment to break in.

Burglars also love big holiday parties. Don’t just leave the door unlocked and yell ‘come on in!’ Burglars can blend in. Make sure you have someone at the door to greet your guests.

Remember to keep your garage doors and the door from the garage into your house shut; lock your car doors, and keep lights on when you’re gone to make it appear that someone is home.

Have a safe holiday!

Mrs. Theil is a child advocate in Wayne and Holmes counties. She can be contacted at