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3 safety tips on toys, trees and holiday lights

In American folklore, Santa keeps his famous naughty-or-nice list. Deserving kids are to receive presents, with the undeserving getting the proverbial lump of coal.

Even worse than a lump of coal, however, is a present that is defective and causes harm. Yet every year there are dangerous toys and other products that parents must guard their kids against.

Here are three safety tips on toys and holiday decorations to keep in mind as the season unfolds.

Check warnings from consumer advocacy groups that issue lists about toys that cause harm.

One such list is compiled by a safety group called World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH).

For example, a Wonder Woman action-sword toy has a rigid plastic blade that could easily cause injuries to the face.

WATCH's top-10 list of dangerous toys includes several toys that are not labeled properly and includes toys that pose strangulation, choking and other hazards.

Take steps to minimize fire risk from Christmas trees.

Safety experts also have tips for minimizing fire risk from Christmas trees. recommend keeping your tree well away from heat sources. That means be aware that it isn't too close to a fireplace, radiator or air vent.

Keeping the tree from becoming bone-dry is also important. Making sure to maintain a good level of water in the tree stand is important toward that end.

Artificial trees are not necessarily inflammable. But some artificial trees are more resistant to fires than others. You can check the labeling to see whether a particular tree carries a label of "fire resistant."

Putting up decorations can raise the risk of falls.

If you have to get up on a ladder to put lights on your house, consider finding someone to hold the ladder for you.

Of course this is especially a concern if you are elderly. As we noted in an earlier post on fall-prevention, the consequences of a bad fall can be particularly devastating for seniors.

Regardless of your age, however, don't go climbing up on your house or even on a ladder without a buddy to help you. Think of it as the more the merrier, in a season that seeks to be the merriest of the year.

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