The glitter, glow and frenzied fun of the holidays makes it the most festive time of the year. But the sparkle of the season can come with hidden dangers for your 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 of Children's Health℠ Pediatric Group. “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 keep the holidays happy and safe for your entire family.
1. Use flame-resistant decorations.
Reduce the risk of fire by decorating the tree with only flame-resistant materials. If purchasing an artificial tree, make sure it is fire-resistant. Be sure and keep a real tree well watered to reduce the risk of fire.
2. Keep small, breakable decorations out of reach.
The best option is to store delicate, breakable glass ornaments and decorations until your children are older. If you do display them, make sure they're far from the reach of little hands. Consider placing a baby gate around your tree to make it, and delicate decorations, less accessible to tiny hands.
3. Pick up wrappings, ribbons and bows.
All the trimmings for gifts are beautiful, but they are a triple threat for children. Prevent possible suffocation, choking and fire hazards by gathering wrappings and packaging pieces as gifts are unwrapped.
4. Place candles carefully and don't leave them burning unattended.
Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Use non-flammable candle holders, and avoid glass or breakable containers. Make sure candle holders are out of reach of children and aren't sitting on a cloth that can be pulled. Consider flameless candles to create the same candlelit 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 spun glass angel hair or other potential irritants to protect your skin.
6. Pinpoint and place choking hazards out of reach.
Little ones naturally put about anything in their mouths. Things like tiny figurines, wreaths with small decorations, potpourri, and hard candies and nuts are 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 for something easy to pick and pop in a mouth. Mistletoe, poinsettia and holly are the typical targets. The American Association of Poison Control Centers says they're not poisonous, but can cause nausea, diarrhea, tingling or burning of the mouth when eaten.
8. Be on the lookout 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 that are older than nine years old 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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