Holiday Safety Tips: Keep Kids Safe

During the holiday season you're busy decking the halls and whipping up holiday fare, but make sure you set aside time in your holiday hustle and bustle to think about holiday safety tips. Skipping this important holiday activity could turn your holiday cheer into tears. Here are the top tips from the National SAFEKIDS Campaign:

Trees

  • O Christmas Tree sounds just as good around a fire-resistant artificial tree and it's certainly the safest choice. But if it's just not Christmas in your home without a "real" tree, pick a freshly cut one - they're less likely to catch fire than trees that have been sitting around for weeks drying out.
  • Check daily to make sure your tree is in a full container of water.
  • Keep the tree away from heat sources.
  • Never burn Christmas tree branches, wrapping paper or treated wood in the fireplace.
  • Use a wide-based stand to make sure your tree doesn't fall over.
  • Kids can reach the lowest branches so take care how you decorate them. Trim the branches to prevent eye injury. Don't hang ornaments that are breakable, have detachable parts or look like candy on lower branches. Hang tree lights out of a child's reach.
  • Turn off the tree lights when you leave the room.
  • Don't burn tree branches in your fireplace.

Lights

  • Use only UL-approved lights and cords.
  • Don't use strings of lights that have loose connections, broken sockets or loose or frayed wires.
  • Don't overload extension cords - three strings of lights per cord is the limit!
  • Don't run an extension cord under a carpet.
  • Secure cords so that children can't pull on them.

Candles

  • Don't leave candles unattended.
  • Teach kids not to touch burning candles.
  • Don't place lit candles near curtains or other flammable objects.

Food

  • Holiday goodies are a festive part of most holiday gatherings, but many adult treats are serious choking hazards to children under 6 years old. Keep candy cane pieces, mints, nuts and popcorn out of reach of young children.

Poisons

  • Keep alcohol out of the reach of young children. Don't forget that the vanilla and almond extracts you may be using in holiday baking contain enough alcohol to harm a child.
  • Watch out for these poisonous holiday plants: holly and mistletoe berries, amaryllis, azalea, boxwood, Christmas rose, crown of thorns, English ivy and Jerusalem cherry.
  • Wait for natural snow to hit your windows - artificial snow sprays can cause lung irritation if inhaled.
  • As pretty as the multi-colored flames produced by fire salts can be, these products are dangerous. If eaten, the heavy metals in fire salts can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation or vomiting.
  • Make sure your chimney flue is opened before using your fireplace. Proper ventilation reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Install UL-approved carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

Toys

Parents can get swept up in the spirit of giving around the holidays. Your child really wants something and you really want to be the one to give it to him. But the holiday spirit is no reason to ignore safety. Here are some toy safety basics to keep in mind when you're making your list and checking it twice:

  • Toys with small parts can present a choking hazard for children under age 3.
  • If toys have sharp points or edges, children may accidentally cut themselves or others.
  • Stay away from loud toys. You will save your sanity and protect your child's hearing.
  • Avoid eye injuries by resisting toys that include a projectile.
  • Toys with string or cord attachments longer than seven inches pose a strangle hazard.
  • Skip electrical toys for kids under age 8 and check them periodically for loose wires when you give them to older kids.
  • If you're giving sports equipment, include protective gear like helmets or reflective clothing as part of the gift.

Cathy Elcik is a former editor for the Boston Parents' Paper and Parenthood.com.

© Parenthood.com, used with permission.

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