Child-Proof the Holidays
The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year for many families, but for hospital emergency rooms, it is one of the busiest. KidsHealth.org offers some tips for protecting little ones from both common and unexpected holiday dangers.
Mistletoe, holly, poinsettias and other plants used as holiday decorations may be beautiful to look at, but they can be potentially poisonous and should be kept out of reach of kids. Symptoms of plant poisoning include rashes, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. “Bubble lights” also can be toxic if a child drinks the fluid from more than one light, even if the lights are labeled non-toxic, and snow sprays can be harmful if the aerosol propellants are used improperly. If a child has been poisoned or harmed, immediately call a doctor.
Choking and swallowing small objects is another potential hazard. Tree ornaments, light bulbs, icicles, tinsel and small toys can be tempting for kids to play with, but these items can block airway passages if swallowed. The general rule of thumb is that if an item is small enough to fit in the mouths of babies and toddlers, it’s too small to play with.
Some holiday trees have sharp needles that can cause painful cuts in the mouth and throat when swallowed. Also, keep breakable ornaments out of kids’ reach, or keep them off the tree altogether until children are older. If one does break, clean up the broken glass immediately.
Secure your tree in a sturdy stand so it won’t get knocked over by kids or pets, and keep it away from all heat sources, such as electrical outlets, radiators and portable space heaters. Unplug all indoor and outdoor lights and extinguish all candles before going to bed.
Before you put up holiday decorations, check smoke detectors to make sure they work properly. In the event of a fire, have an emergency evacuation plan in place. By practicing these simple safety tips, you and your loved ones can enjoy many holiday celebrations for years to come.