It seems hard to believe, but the winter holidays will soon be here! I am looking forward to seeing relatives, watching my children open presents, and making tons of treats to hand out to family and friends. I am NOT looking forward to hiding the “Elf on The Shelf” every day (but I’ll do it anyway—my 7-year-old and ten year old still love it!), and I am REALLY not looking forward to my very active 2-year-old attempting to break all of my fragile holiday decorations (this has already started. There’s a reason that only the top half of my tree is decorated).
What traditions is your family looking forward to? While the holidays are full of joy, we must also remember that there are some hidden dangers among the festive activities! Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind for our kids this season.
- If setting up a tree, make sure it is away from fireplaces, radiators, or portable heaters. Put it out of the way of traffic, and do not block doorways. If using an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled “Fire resistant.”
- Check all lights before hanging them. Make sure the bulbs work, and there are no frayed wires, broken sockets, or loose connections.
- Be cautious about decorations that may contain lead. Light strands may contain lead in the bulb sockets and wire coating, sometimes in high amounts. Make sure your lights are out of reach of young children who may try to put them in their mouths, and wash your hands after handling them.
- In homes with small children, avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Keep items with small removable parts out of reach of children to prevent them from swallowing or inhaling small pieces. Avoid items that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.
- Keep potentially poisonous holiday plant decorations, including mistletoe berries, Jerusalem Cherry, and holly berry, away from children (and your cats and dogs as well)!
- When lighting candles, remove flammable materials from the area and place the candles where they will not be knocked over. Never leave a burning candle unattended. Do not use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
- Remove all wrapping paper, bags, ribbons, and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child or can cause a fire if near flame.
Holiday Food Tips
- When preparing food for a holiday celebration, follow food safety guidelines. Bacteria are often present in raw foods. Fully cook meats and poultry, and thoroughly wash raw vegetables and fruits.
- When preparing food, wash your hands frequently, and teach your children to do the same!
- Always keep raw foods and cooked foods separate, and use separate utensils when preparing them.
- Always thaw meat in the refrigerator, never on the countertop.
- Prevent burns by keeping hot food and liquids away from the edges of counters and tables, where a young child can easily knock them over. Be sure that young children cannot access microwave ovens and turn pot handles toward the side or back of the stove.
- Foods that require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours.
- After a holiday meal, clean up immediately. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
Holiday Travel Tips
- Remember that 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.
- Keep a list with important phone numbers that you or a babysitter are likely to need in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department, your pediatrician, and the toll-free Poison Helpline, 1-800-222-1222.
- Always make sure that your child rides in an appropriate car seat, booster seat, or seat belt. In cold weather, children in car safety seats should wear thin layers with a blanket over the top of the harness straps if needed, not a thick coat or snowsuit.
- While traveling, changes in routine can increase your child’s stress levels. Try to stick to your child’s usual routines, including sleep schedules and timing of naps, to help you and your child enjoy the holidays and reduce stress!
These and other great tips can be found at the American Academy of Pediatrics website.
I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday season.