Christmas Tree Mold, Leftovers and 9 Other Holiday Hazards You Didn't Know Existed
We don't mean to be kill-joys during the most joyous time of the year, but the stats don't lie: According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 12,500 of you have to leave the company of your loved ones to rush to the emergency room due to holiday-related accidental injuries.
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Here are some common holiday dangers that are overlooked by distracted holiday revelers more often than you might think.
Take a look, know the warning signs, and you'll be the first to know if you, your loved ones, or your pets are victims of a toxic Christmas.
1. Christmas Tree Mold
f your sniffling and sneezing coincide with the arrival of your freshly cut Christmas tree, you could be reacting to skyrocketing mold spore counts. If you must have a real tree in your home, prevent allergic reactions for guests and loved ones by hosing your tree down, spraying it with a mold-resistant sealant like M-1 Sure Cote, and allowing it to dry before bringing it indoors.
Mold spore counts might be lower with living trees, and lower still with artificial trees. But, keep in mind that some mold can grow on living trees in nature and that dust accumulates while artificial trees are in storage. Also, ask growers about the pollination behavior of your tree: Mountain cedar trees pollinate in late November to early December, so allergy sufferers should steer clear of that variety. Allergy sufferers should consider wearing an allergy relief mask while decorating and keeping an air purifier in the room of the display.
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2. Kids Full of Christmas Spirits
Having a holiday party? Odds are there'll be some grown-up party drinks to toast the season and, perhaps, some kids scampering about. Again, children can be quite curious and love to imitate adults. Alcohol poisoning is not uncommon with young ones during the holidays, considering half-empty drink glasses may be left around and forgotten. Be sure to ask guests to dispose of their leftovers appropriately, or take special care to do it yourself.
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3. Chocolate-Loving Dogs
If you're baking this holiday, keep your ingredients stored in a high cabinet and not anyplace where your pup could get to them. Theobromine, a compound present in chocolate that is toxic to dogs but not humans, could cause a range of symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea, seizures, coma, or even death. Potential toxic doses vary by breed size and weight, but unsweetened cocoa and baking chocolate pose the highest risk, while milk chocolate is least threatening. If you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic amount of chocolate, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.
4. The Leftovers
Pups begging at the table for scraps isn't anything new. But, make sure guests know what they can and can't offer your pet. It's best practice not to train animals into a taste for human foods at all; your dog can chew common treats like chicken and turkey bones into shards that can pose a choking hazard if swallowed.
Be sure to take your trash out regularly to avoid pets rummaging through it and discovering scraps that could put them in danger: coffee grinds (methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, seizures, and even death), grapes and raisins (an unknown compound causes kidney failure), and more. For a full list of People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet visit aspca.org