The holiday season often means extra lights, décor and visitors in your home. But those festive tidings also bring additional safety hazards.
“Your house may be child-proof the rest of the year, but the holidays introduce many new factors that can cause safety to be overlooked,” says Chantelle Bennett, child life manager at Florida Hospital for Children. “This can include decorations, food, and even house guests or visitors who might not be as attentive to your child’s safety.” Below are some basic safety tips from Florida Hospital for Children to help keep the “happy” in holidays.
- If you prefer real trees, look for the freshest ones available. Fresh trees are less likely to catch fire than older trees.
- Keep natural trees in a container full of water and check daily.
- Secure trees in a wide-based stand to prevent tipping over.
- Use a tree skirt or blanket to cover tree basins.
- Keep them away from heat sources such as fireplaces and heating vents.
- Avoid eye injuries to small children by cutting lower tree branches.
- Decorate trees with children in mind. Don’t put breakable ornaments, tinsel, ornaments with small, detachable parts, metal hooks, or anything that looks like food or candy on lower branches.
- Consider fencing your tree with a childproof portable play yard.
- Hang tree lights out of the reach of children.
- Never burn tree branches, treated wood or wrapping paper in your fireplace.
- Dispose of your tree promptly after the holidays.
Lights and Candles
- Don’t connect, or “daisy chain,” power strips together. This can cause a fire hazard.
- Use only UL (formerly known as Underwriters Laboratories) approved lights and cords for decorating.
- Discard lights with frayed or exposed wires, loose connections or broken sockets.
- Don’t overload extension cords. Use no more than three strings of lights on a cord.
- Electrical cords should be secure so children can’t pull them and topple the tree.
- Never run electrical cords under a carpet.
- Turn off tree lights when you leave home, go to bed or leave the room. Also extinguish all fireplaces and candles.
- Keep burning candles out of children’s reach and teach them not to touch burning candles.
- Don’t leave candles unattended. Keep matches and lighters hidden from children.
- Don’t place candles near draperies or anything susceptible to catching fire.
- Use a fireplace screen if you build a fire. Otherwise, children may be tempted to get too close or touch the flames. .
- Have a play yard to keep young children away from screens since they get hot.
- Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
- Plan and practice fire escape routes from your home to an outside meeting place.
- Open the fireplace flue when burning wood to provide adequate ventilation and decrease chances of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Baking ingredients such as vanilla and almond extracts contain high levels of alcohol and may be harmful to young children.
- Keep poisonous plants out of reach. Holly and mistletoe berries are poisonous if eaten. Other holiday plants of concern include amaryllis, azalea, boxwood, Christmas rose, Crown of Thorns, English ivy, and Jerusalem cherry.
- Artificial snow sprays can cause lung irritation if inhaled.
- Keep a list on the refrigerator door of emergency and poison control numbers. Leave numbers where you can be reached if a babysitter needs to reach you.
- Only use Ipecac syrup on the advice of a poison control center or physician.
- Keep round, hard foods and candies such as nuts, mints, popcorn and candy canes out of reach of young children. These can be a choking hazard.
- Remind guests to keep medications away from young children. Grandma’s pill box may look like a candy container to a little one.