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How To Dodge Common Holiday Hazards


Christmas is a beautiful time of year, but you know what? It can also be a dangerous time. So in the spirit of the season, we offer you some tips to stay safe over the holidays.

LORRAINE CARLI: Christmas tree fires are not very common. But when they do occur, they're much more likely to be deadly than most other fires.

MARTIN: That's Lorraine Carli, and she works for the National Fire Protection Association. She says there are about 200 fires a year that are started by a Christmas tree.

CARLI: When you put your tree up, make sure you're watering it every single day because a well-watered tree, if you do have a fire, will burn much slower than a dried-out tree.

MARTIN: Don't put it near your radiator or wood stove, where the tree is prone to burning. And definitely don't put it near the fireplace. Open flames and wood are just asking to be burned. Next up, your hands.

SAM MOGHTADERI: You're using your snow blower. It gets jammed or stuck because a branch goes in it or wet snow goes in it. And the person thinks that the machine has stopped where it's really jammed. And there's enough movement in the blade there to cause injury.

MARTIN: This is Sam Moghtaderi. He says the resulting wounds from a snow blower can vary from a cut on the tip of your middle finger to losing the whole thing. And finally, don't underestimate deep fat frying a turkey. Marianne Gravely works for the USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline.

MARIANNE GRAVELY: Do it outside. Find a level area that's away from trees and your house. And set up a perimeter so that you don't have children and people coming over there because it's really dangerous.

MARTIN: Marianne says that when you're frying your turkey, every step of the process is really important. Make sure you measure out how much oil you'll actually need. And be sure to watch the bird at all times. If you don't, things fall apart. Marianne has personally experienced the consequences.

GRAVELY: I was at a family member's house. And she had fried turkeys before. She had assured us that she had done this all the time, and it was so easy. And she was so comfortable with this that she turned on the fryer, put the oil in. And then she went back in the house for cocktails. And then she came back outside about a half an hour later to check the oil. She did not have a thermometer. And when she took the lid off the fryer, we had a fireball that went up, like, 20 feet.

MARTIN: But if you do it right, the turkey will be nice and crispy, and you will not. That was our holiday public service announcement from WEEKEND EDITION. Stay safe, and have a happy holiday season. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: December 20, 2015 at 11:00 PM CST
In an earlier version of this story, bad advice was given about how to clear a jammed snowblower. Even if the snowblower is turned off, you should NOT reach in and use your hand to clear a jam. The blades might still spin and cause serious injury. Instead, to free the blades use an old broomstick or something else that you don't care about getting damaged.