A Holiday Beauty
Did you know the poinsettia, one of America’s most colorful holiday decorations, is not technically a flower? It’s a fact. The poinsettia is an unusual plant that grows wild in Central America but got its American name from the man who brought it here from Mexico around 1830.
Since the plant normally reaches full bloom during the holiday season, it has been called the “flor de pascua”-Christmas flower by Spanish-speaking people for centuries.
The plant caught the attention of J.R. Poinsett when he was serving as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. He packed several of the plants in his belongings and brought them to the United States when his tour of duty in Mexico ended. An enthusiastic gardener and horticulturist, Dr. Poinsett planted this holiday beauty in his garden in Charleston, S.C. The plant flourished and was later named in his honor.
The colorful leaf-like fronds at the top of the poinsettia are not the petals of a flower but are called bracts. They surround a central cluster of tiny bead-like flowers. Since Dr. Poinsett introduced the plant, it has been grown in many parts of North America and changed dramatically by horticulturists. Florists now cultivate white, pink mottled and striped poinsettias. Even so the brilliant red of the first poinsettias remain the favorite.
The timeless beauty of the poinsettia can remind us of the true meaning of the holidays. But we should also remember that the season brings distractions and hazards that demand special safety precautions.
Be aware that hazards increase during the holidays. Poinsettias and other holiday decorations must be kept clear of fireplaces and other sources of heat. Check all decorative lights for signs of frayed cords or exposed wires, and be sure to turn them off before leaving the house or going to bed.
Watch for hazards that could lead to a slip, trip, fall or pinch. Use your on-the –job safety know-how at home to inspect indoor and outdoor decorations for defects. Dispose of used wrappings safely to prevent fire.
Practice safe driving. Driving can be especially dangerous during the holidays because of the extra traffic and extra hours of darkness. Always allow plenty of time for your trip, buckle up and adjust your speed for weather and traffic conditions. Never drink and drive. Keep the joy in your holiday and the spirits under control.
Just as a centuries-old-holiday decoration still fits our modern lifestyle, we need to remember that safety is always in season. Keep the beauty and joy in your holidays this year by following the time-tested rules of accident prevention.
WISHING YOU A SAFE & JOYOUS HOLIDAY SEASON
*COPYRIGHT 2005 Harkins Safety B206