The holidays are here! What an exciting time of the year for kids and adults alike! Holidays are for enjoying with family and friends. Many of us decorate our homes and offices to cherish the holiday feeling with trees, signs, lights and candles. People like me who love to travel also use some of the days off to travel with family and see places or visit loved ones. To ensure you have a safe, healthy and happy holiday season, here are some tips to keep in mind as you deck out your home and/or travel:
- When selecting an artificial tree, holiday ornaments or decorations, look for ‘non-combustible,’ ‘flame-resistant’ or ‘fire-resistant’ products.
- When selecting a live tree, check for freshness. The needles of the tree should be hard to pull from branches and the tree should not lose many needles when the tree is tapped on the ground. Keep the trees in sturdy stands with water. I have seen many injuries that happen when trees kept in an unsteady base topple over small children who are playing near the trees. Keep trees away from heating sources such as room heaters and fireplaces. Dry trees pose a fire hazard.
- Christmas lights in and outside houses are sources for residential fires if they are not installed properly. With indoor lights, make sure there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. Use only ‘outdoor’ certified lights to decorate around the house. Remember to plug them into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks. Always turn these lights off when you leave home or go to bed.
- Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 240 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 150 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year. Together, these fires result in an average of 21 deaths and about $25.2 million in direct property damage every year.
- If you have small children, try to avoid decorations that are sharp, breakable or if they have loose parts that can pose a choking hazard. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or other edible products.
- When discarding wrappings of décor or gifts, put them away from small children, heaters or fireplaces because these can become suffocation hazards or catch fire.
Holiday Gifts and Toys:
- Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Remove strings and ribbons from the packages before giving them to small children. Toys with strings that are more than 12-inches in length pose as strangulation hazard for little kids. Teach your children to read and follow instructions before using the gifts.
- Greeting cards, remote controls, small toys and electronic gadgets often contain button batteries. Children can have serious stomach and intestinal problems – including death – after swallowing button batteries and magnets.
- Young children can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
- Your normal travel preparation should include your child’s regular prescription medications, any OTC meds you might want to keep handy, nebulizers or an Epi-pen that you might need. Keep these in your carry–on luggage if you are flying. And don’t forget your little ones’ favorite toy or blanket! It is as vital to them as your cell phone is to you!
- If you are leaving your child home with a caretaker, be sure to leave all emergency contact info, the phone number for your child’s pediatrician and the Poison Control number (1-800-222-1222). Do not forget to give a release form authorizing the caretaker to seek emergency medical care for your child if necessary.
- Remember that the homes and hotel rooms you visit may not be childproofed. Unlocked cabinets, unattended purses, accessible cleaning or laundry products, stairways or hot radiators are common danger spots in hotels that parents should keep an eye out for. With little children, look out for any swimming pools, access to balconies, open fireplaces, freely available hard candies and uncovered electrical sockets.
- Travel tends to disrupt the child’s usual routine and increase their stress level. Try to stick to their normal feeding and nap times as much as possible.
Holiday Food Safety:
- Keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of counters and tables, where they can be easily knocked over by a young child’s exploring hands.
- Keep raw foods and cooked foods separately, and use separate utensils when preparing them. Fully cook the meats and poultry, and thoroughly wash raw fruits and vegetables. For foods requiring refrigeration, do not leave them at room temperature for over two hours.
- Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
- Holiday time is around the same time of the year when flu and other common viral respiratory illnesses peak. Practice good hand washing for adults and children.
Twinkling lights, warm fires, softly glowing candles, a dazzling Christmas tree and excited little faces waiting for Santa Claus…no wonder this is my most favorite time of the year, like it is for many of you. What we don’t want is our festivities being disrupted by a preventable accident. Have a safe and joyous holiday season!