The holiday season is an exciting time for children, full of glittering decorations and new things to explore. Unfortunately, all those unfamiliar items and the distractions of the season can lead to injuries. Here are some common seasonal hazards and the simple steps you can take to keep kids safe:
-Keep Christmas trees well watered at all times. Dry trees are a fire hazard.
-Check all lights, bulbs, sockets, and extension cords to make sure nothing is frayed, cracked or broken.
- Check each set of lights by setting on a nonflammable surface and plugging in for 10 to 15 minutes to see that the lights are in safe working order.
- Be sure the tree is firmly anchored so it can’t fall on a child.
- Don’t put breakable ornaments, ornaments with small detachable parts, or ornaments that look like food or candy on the lower branches where small children can reach them.
- Use only flame-resistant decorations.
- Turn off tree lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
- Don’t overload extension cords. Never run extension cords under carpets.
- Use sturdy candle holders.
- Keep candles away from curtains and other items that could catch fire.
- Never leave candles unattended or within reach of children.
- Teach children not to touch burning candles.
- Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach at all times.
- Follow the age recommendations on toys even if you believe that your child is exceptional. Age recommendations on toys pertain to safety, not to the ability of a child to master the toy or game.
- To prevent choking, buy toys for children under three that are bigger than the child’s fist.
- Inspect toys to make sure that they don’t have parts that could break off and be swallowed.
- Avoid toys with long strings or cords for infants and toddlers. These can lead to strangulation if the child plays with them unsupervised in a crib or playpen.
- Make sure battery-operated toys are in good condition. Old batteries can leak and cause corrosive burns. If swallowed, button-type batteries can cause internal chemical burns or poisoning.
- Don’t neglect the supervision of small children during family gatherings and holiday parties. If you plan to drink at a party, leave children at home with a trained, trusted baby sitter. Be sure the sitter knows emergency phone numbers for fire, police and your doctor, as well as where to reach you.
- During parties at your own home, consider hiring a sitter or designating a family member to be responsible for small children at all times.
- Remember to clean up after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or be exposed to tobacco or alcohol left within his reach.
- Keep visitors’ purses and coat pockets out of reach of young children. Visitors may bring into your home items that you carefully keep out of reach, such as medications, lighters or matches.
- Remember that homes you visit may not be childproofed. Take a survey of any place you visit.
- See our safe turkey preparation article.
- Be sure to use appropriate car seats and seat belts for your children, wherever you do any holiday driving. If you are traveling in someone else’s car, arrange ahead of time to borrow or rent the appropriate car seat for your children.
- Exercise road safety with extra caution during the holidays. There may be heavy traffic, poor weather, and the possibility of alcohol use by other drivers.