Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and more! Whether celebrating just one or all of these holidays, remembering the following tips can help keep the holiday safe, as well as fun.
Many people rearrange the furniture during the holidays to make room for larger tables and decorations. This can open up a path to hazards that are normally blocked to the youngest family members. After rearranging, go through your home and get down on your hands and knees to look at each room from your child’s point of view. Look for hazards like exposed outlets or cords, sharp corners on furniture, open stairwells, easy-to-reach cabinets, and places where matches, lighters, and any firearms are stored. If you haven’t already, install childproofing products like outlet covers, gates, cabinet and drawer locks. If you’re traveling to someone else’s home during the holidays, ask your host to do a little childproofing – and lock up dangerous items like matches, lighters, and firearms.
Holiday time often means times to go out with friends and leaving the children with a sitter. Keep important phone numbers that babysitter (or you) might need in an emergency, such as the police and fire department, your pediatrician, and the National Poison Help Line, 1-800-222-1222.
Decorate with care.
Holiday decorating is a family tradition that should be lots of fun – but it should also be safe. Avoid using decorations, like tinsel and artificial snow that may be a choking hazard for curious little ones who like to taste everything.
Keep ornament hooks, breakable ornaments, and decorations with small pieces out of a child’s reach. Poinsettias, mistletoe, holly, and other holiday plants should be kept high up and out of reach.
Think fun, think safety.
Look for labels to indicate that toys are non-toxic, fire-resistant, lead-free, UL-approved, and appropriate for your child’s age. Avoid toys with sharp edges, projectile parts, brittle pieces, and cords or strings. Toys that can fit into a cardboard toilet paper roll are too small for young children. Remove and throw away all wrappers and packaging before giving toys to a child.
Make safety present in gift giving.
While it makes holiday gift giving even more fun, gift wrapping can pose a choking or suffocation danger to young children. Throw away wrapping paper, bags, bows and ribbons after gifts have been opened. Never burn wrapping paper in the fireplace.
Beware of batteries.
We love our small electronic devices and toys, but need to be aware that many of these require small button batteries that are tempting to young children. Swallowing these shiny pieces can lead to serious damage to the intestinal system, so be sure to keep them locked safely inside the electronics they support or store them high up and out of reach from curious children.
Keep outdoor play safe for everyone.
Children should wear water-resistant coats, gloves, hats, scarves, and boots when playing in the snow. If your child’s gloves or shoes get wet, change them out for a dry pair. Do not let your child sled near trees, fences, roads, motor vehicles, or water. Teach children never to walk on or near frozen water. Always supervise children while playing outside.
Be bright about candles.
Candles are a great way to light up the holidays, but they should always be used with care. Do not use lighted candles on a tree or near other flammable decorations. Burning candles should never be left unattended or within a child’s reach. Lock up matches and lighters so that a child cannot reach them.
Put fire safety in your holiday plans.
Fire safety is always important – but should receive extra attention during the holidays. Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor including the basement and on the outside and inside of every sleeping area. Make sure to install both detectors according to the manufacturer recommendations.
Check them once a month and change the batteries twice a year. Practice your family’s fire escape plan with two ways out of each room and a safe meeting place outside. Make sure overnight holiday guests know the plan.
If you have a fireplace, use it responsibly. Never leave the fire burning unattended and do not leave children alone in the room with a lit fire. Check to ensure that any soot or other residue you clean out from the fireplace is fully cooled all the way through before disposing of it. Also, be sure to have your chimney inspected and cleaned once a year to confirm that it is in good working order.