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Avoiding Holiday Hazards At Home

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, almost 13,000 people in the U.S. end up in the emergency room during the holidays because of mishaps with trees, lights or even toys.

Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency room physician and host of "The Doctors," has tips to avoid holiday injuries.

"First of all, people have to be very careful setting up the tree itself," Stork warns. "Make sure your ladder is sturdy, steady and safe. Falls are a big problem." Not only can you topple down, but so can the tree.

Make sure you secure the tree so children and pets can't pull them down on top of themselves. Some people use a gate around the tree or secure it to the wall. And remember to ask someone to help you reach the top of the tree -- especially if you feel unsteady on a ladder.

When decorating the tree, be careful to put some of the trimmings up high enough so infants and toddlers and pets can't get to them. Decorations, like tinsel, are tempting to put in their mouths and ornaments are frequently breakable.

Also, some decorations, like live holly and mistletoe, are poisonous. If eaten, they can be toxic to people and pets.

Stork says one of the injuries doctors see most this time of year is people cutting their hands on those impenetrable plastic packages toys come in.

"They're almost impossible to open, so people take to using box cutters, knives and scissors. One false move and you're hand is slashed. The ER does a lot of stitching up," he says. Take it slow, and be really careful opening those toys for the kids. "Always cut away from your hand," Stork says.

Lights, which are usually balled up after the holidays and left in the box, can be a hazard, too.

Make sure the bulbs work, there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. Stork says many people show up in the ER with burns and shocks from faulty lights or falling off ladders when stringing them.

Always remember to unplug lights at night and when away from home to avoid a fire.

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