Celebrate the Holidays Safely
The holiday season is a wonderful time when we enjoy gathering with family and friends, decorating our homes and sharing the excitement of gifts with children. Here are some tips to celebrate the holidays safely:
TREES – If purchasing an artificial tree, look for a “Fire Resistant” and/or “Flame Retardant” label on the box.
If purchasing a live tree, be sure it is fresh with green needles that are hard to pull from the branches and are difficult to break if bent. Be sure you regularly water your live tree so it does not dry out and become a fire hazard.
LIGHTS – Check all lights and dispose of any with exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets. Remember to shut off all lights when you go to bed
or leave the house.
DECORATIONS – Keep holiday candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn, out of children’s reach, and in a location where they can’t easily be tipped over. Place matches and lighters in a secure place away from kids and don’t forget to blow out candles when you go to sleep.
Keep potentially poisonous holiday plants away from children and pets, including mistletoe berries, holly berry and Jerusalem cherry. Call the National Poison Center at 800-222-1222 if you suspect your child has eaten any part of these plants.
Decorate your tree with your children in mind, placing breakable ornaments and metal hooks toward the top. Also, be aware of small tree ornaments and tiny light bulbs as they could pose as choking hazards.
TOYS – Choose toys to fit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Read the instructions and warning labels to be sure the gift does not pose a safety hazard.
Keep an eye on small parts. Magnets and button batteries can cause serious stomach and intestinal problems, and even death, if swallowed. Young children can also choke on small toy parts. Keep all of these items away from young children and call your child’s doctor right away if one is swallowed. Also, remember to remove tags, strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
FOOD AND DRINK – Help prevent illness by fully cooking meats and thoroughly washing raw fruits and vegetables. Also, keep raw foods and cooked foods separate, and never leave food requiring refrigeration out at room temperature for more than two hours.
Keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of counters and tables, and prevent burns by using the back burner of the stove and turning pot handles away from the edge while cooking.
Alcohol poisoning is a common risk for children during the holidays. Be sure to clean up all empty and partially empty cups as soon as possible.
Wash your hands and your child’s hands frequently, especially before and after eating.
Some common holiday foods such as peanuts and popcorn are potential choking hazards and should not be offered to children under 4 years of age.
TRAVELING – Always make sure your child rides in an appropriate car seat, booster seat or seat belt. Use this parent checklist for a quick car seat test before traveling: http://www.safekids.org/checklist/car-seat-checklist-parents-pdf. Adults should buckle up too, and drivers should never be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Be extra cautious when traveling at night on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, when there is a higher incidence of impaired driving.
Being on the road, visiting family members, shopping and all the other holiday hubbub can increase children’s stress levels. Try to stick to your child’s usual routines, especially eating and sleeping schedules.
Sources: Safekids.org “Holiday Safety Tips”, Healthychildren.org “Holiday Safety and Mental Health Tips”,
KidsHealth.org “Making the Holidays Safe”