The holidays with kids can be a wonderful time of year. No matter the age, children love holidays. They love the family get-togethers, the lights and decorations, the desserts, school vacations and, of course, the presents! However, holidays can also bring up multiple safety issues. Read some of the tips below so that you can avoid spending your holiday in the Emergency Room.
- “Bubble lights” may contain methylene chloride and can be poisonous if a child drinks the fluid from more than one light (even if labeled nontoxic).
- Snow sprays may be harmful if the aerosol propellants are used improperly
- Light bulbs, tinsel, and small toys are potential choking hazards for small children because they may block the airway. The general rule of thumb is that if it’s small enough to fit in the mouths of babies and toddlers, it’s too small to play with
- Ornaments made of glass or ceramic can break easily. This can be a double hazard causing cuts on hands and choking if broken pieces are swallowed
- Ornament hangers may cause cuts, skin irritation, or eye damage if touched or swallowed by children
- Mistletoe, holly and poinsettias are common decorations or gifts during the holidays. These plants are considered poisonous and should be kept out of the reach of kids.
- Symptoms of plant poisoning can include rashes, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- The needles of Christmas trees can cause painful cuts in the mouth and throat of a child who swallows them
- If you suspect that your child has eaten any part of a plant, immediately call your doctor or the National Poison Center: (800) 222-1222
- Keep your tree secured in a sturdy stand so that it doesn’t tip over and keep it away from all heat sources such as electrical outlets, radiators, and space heaters. If you buy an artificial tree, be sure that it is labeled “fire-retardant.”
- Avoid using real candles on a tree because if the needles are dry they can easily catch fire. Never leave the room with candles burning — it only takes a minute for a spark from a candle to burst into flames.
- Circuits that are overloaded with lights, decorations, and accessories can start a fire. Don’t overload indoor or outdoor electrical outlets.
- Have your fireplace inspected before you light your first fire of the season. A chimney professional can clean your fireplace and ensure that it is safe to use. You can protect your family by using a sturdy fireplace screen when burning fires. Never burn paper or pine boughs, since those materials can float out of the chimney and ignite a nearby home.
- Practice fire safety, have a family emergency plan in the event of a fire, and check smoke detectors before you put up your holiday decorations.
- Family members can be well intentioned, but make sure all visitors follow house rules and that all foods/gifts for the children are okayed by you first.
- Sick family members should stay away from young babies and all hands should be washed frequently
- If you feel overwhelmed by family, take a quick break (a short walk outside, 10 minutes alone in an empty room, etc.). Don’t take the holiday stress out on your children.
Food and Drink:
- Common holiday foods such as peanuts or popcorn are potential choking hazards and should not be given to children under age 4
- Alcohol poisoning is a common risk for children during the holiday season. Take care to remove all empty and partially empty cups as soon as possible. Because kids imitate adults, many may drink the beverages they see adults drinking. Children become “drunk” much more quickly than adults, so even small amounts of alcohol can be dangerous.
- Food poisoning is another potential holiday hazard. Practice food safety by washing hands, utensils, dishes, and anything else that comes in contact with raw meat, including poultry and fish, and raw eggs before and after use. Don’t contaminate a serving dish with raw meat. Store leftovers properly and heat them thoroughly before serving.
- Chocolate goodies or caffeinated sodas are ok in small doses—large doses can cause hyperactivity and insomnia in older children and can be dangerous for babies and pets.
- Use time of from school for more than just video games and TV—read part of a fun age-appropriate book to your child every night.
- Get outside and exercise if the weather permits. Playground play or a walk around the block can help both you and your children work off holiday weight gain.
Above all during this holiday season, DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!! Make sure your teenagers (and any guests) understand the dangers of drinking and driving—both as a driver and a passenger. Give them the numbers for safe rides home before they head out to a friend’s party.