Nov 21, 2017, 9:30:43 AM CST Jan 25, 2024, 12:32:00 PM CST

8 safety tips for kids and holiday decorations

Keep little ones safe around common holiday decorations with these tips for kids

Little girl hanging ornaments on tree Little girl hanging ornaments on tree

The glitter, glow and frenzied fun of the holidays makes it the most festive time of the year. Many families enjoy decorating their homes for the holidays, but it's important to take certain safety precautions when doing so, especially in households with small children.

"With how busy the holidays get, it can be easy to overlook precautions you should take with decorations to keep your kids safe," says Dawn D. Johnson, M.D., Medical Director at Children's Health℠. "Taking a moment to assess your surroundings can help you identify any potential hazards and prevent them from harming your children."

Here are eight tips to help your family enjoy holiday decorations without creating potential safety hazards for kids.

1. Use flame-resistant decorations

Be mindful of using any decorations that may be flammable, such as cards and decorations made from paper or cotton. If you use decorations made out of these materials, keep them away from candles, fireplaces or lights.

If your family has a Christmas tree, reduce the risk of fire by decorating it with ornaments made from flame-resistant materials like metal or glass. If purchasing an artificial tree, make sure it is fire-resistant. Be sure to keep a real tree well-watered to reduce the risk of fire.

2. Keep small, breakable decorations out of reach

Using durable decorations is often the safest option for households with young children. Consider storing delicate, breakable glass ornaments and decorations until your children are older. If you do display them, make sure they are far from the reach of little hands. Consider placing a baby gate around Christmas trees to make them, and delicate decorations, less accessible to tiny hands.

3. Pick up wrappings, ribbons and bows

The trimmings for gifts are beautiful, but they can pose some dangers to kids. Prevent possible suffocation, choking and fire hazards by gathering wrappings and packaging pieces as gifts are unwrapped.

4. Place candles carefully and do not leave them unattended while burning

If you use candles in your home around the holidays, make sure you're using them safely. Safety tips for candles inside your home include:

  • Use non-flammable candle holders and avoid glass or breakable containers.
  • Make sure candle holders are out of reach of children and are not sitting on a cloth that can be pulled.
  • Never use lit candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
  • Consider flameless candles to create the same candlelight ambiance without the risk of fire. Just make sure that batteries are secure if the candle is battery-operated.

5. Use precautions with decorations that can irritate skin, eyes and lungs

Artificial snow can have chemicals that can be harmful when sprayed and inhaled, so follow instructions on the can carefully. Be sure to wear gloves when decorating with angel hair spun glass or other potential irritants to protect your skin.

6. Place choking hazards out of reach

Little ones naturally put about anything in their mouths. Things like tiny figurines, wreaths with small decorations, potpourri, hard candies and nuts are all choking hazards. What size is a potential choking hazard? A good rule of thumb is anything small enough to pass through a toilet paper roll holder.

7. Keep holiday plants away from children

Traditional holiday plants with their colorful berries are beautiful – and tempting for little fingers on the lookout. Mistletoe, poinsettia and holly are the typical targets. The American Association of Poison Control Centers says they are not poisonous but can cause nausea, diarrhea, tingling or burning of the mouth when eaten.

8. Watch out for lead

Strings of lights may be coated in a plastic that contains lead, so be sure to wash your hands after handling lights. Artificial trees made in China or trees older than nine years may also contain lead or give off dangerous levels of lead dust as they deteriorate. Toss old trees and check labels for new ones about lead content.

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