Filled with family gatherings, special traditions and delicious treats, the holidays are a wonderful time of the year, especially for kids. Unfortunately, for emergency room physicians it’s also one of the busiest. Below are a few important tips to help protect your little ones from some common holiday dangers.
CHRISTMAS TREES - Look for a “Fire Resistant” label when selecting an artificial tree, and pick the freshest possible tree when choosing a real one. Properly set and frequently fill the stand with water on real trees. A dry tree is a fire hazard.
LIGHTS - Check all tree lights before hanging them on your tree, even if you’ve just purchased them. Make sure all the bulbs work and there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. Plug all outdoor electrics into ground fault interrupters. Turn off all lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
DECORATIONS - In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations which are sharp or breakable. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to prevent pieces from being swallowed or inhaled. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.
FIREPLACES - Remove all wrapping papers, bags, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items are flammable and pose suffocation and choking hazards to small children. Before lighting a fire, remove anything flammable from the fireplace area and make sure the flue is open.
TOYS - Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy received as a gift, read the instructions carefully. Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety or choking hazards for younger children. Be aware of “Button Batteries” and magnets found in toys, greeting cards and holiday novelties. If swallowed, they can create serious stomach problems and even death.
VISITS - The homes you visit may not be childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots like unlocked cabinets, unattended purses, accessible cleaning or laundry products, stairways, or hot radiators. Remember to clean up right after a party; you don’t want a curious toddler coming in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
FOOD SAFETY & POISONING - Be sure to keep hot liquids and food away from the edges of counters and tables, where they can easily be knocked over. Wash your hands frequently, and make sure your children do the same. Mistletoe, holly, poinsettias, and other holiday plants are poisonous, and should be kept out of the reach of young children and pets.
BE PREPARED - Keep a list with all of the important phone numbers you need in case of an emergency. Include your pediatrician and the National Poison Help Line: 1.800.222.1222.