Keep Kids Safe During the Holidays

Experts offer tips for protecting children

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 24, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The holiday season can be a potential danger zone for children, warn doctors at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

They offer the following advice on how you can ensure your children remain healthy and happy during the holidays:

  • Youngsters can be attracted by candles. Make sure candles are out of reach of children so they don't get burned by the flame or hot wax and can't tip the candle and start a fire. Never hold a candle while carrying a baby.
  • Many holiday ornaments are made of glass. Broken fragments of these kinds of ornaments can cut a child's fingers or even be ingested. Small ornaments and ornament hooks may pose a choking hazard. Place small or breakable ornaments high enough to be out of reach of small children. You can place larger, unbreakable ornaments at lower levels.
  • Never leave children alone in a room with a burning fire in the fireplace. Be sure there is a sturdy screen in front of the fireplace to prevent toddlers from falling into a fire. The screen should be secured so it can't fall on a child who grabs it.
  • Be sure that your Christmas tree is stable so it can't fall over if children grab it or try to climb it. Keep real trees well watered to reduce fire danger.
  • If your child has food allergies, you need to be especially vigilant over the holidays.
  • Some holiday foods -- such as hard candies, nuts, vegetable sticks and hot dogs -- are a major choking risk for young children.
  • Ensure that homes you and your children visit over the holidays are childproofed.
  • If you host a party, clean up the house immediately after it's over. Otherwise, your child could get up in the night and choke on leftover food or drink, or consume leftover alcohol or tobacco. Make sure you throw away all balloons. Uninflated or broken balloons can pose a choking hazard to young children.
  • Have a laminated list of emergency numbers posted by your phone so a babysitter can easily find them in case of an emergency. The list should include the phone numbers of your pediatrician, poison control, police, fire and ambulance. It should also include the cell phone numbers of both parents.
  • Keep track of your children while you're holiday shopping with them.
  • If you live in a warm climate, remember to be vigilant about pool and water safety.
  • Check that all toys and gifts are age-appropriate for your child. Remember that gift wrapping, ribbons, plastic and paper bags are potential choking or strangulation hazards.
  • Keep all medicines and chemicals locked up and out of reach at all times to prevent child poisonings.
  • When you drive over the holidays, secure your child in an approved car seat every time the child is in the vehicle. Make your child wears proper safety equipment -- including helmets -- if they're bicycling, rollerblading, skateboarding or tobogganing.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about choosing safe toys.

Robert Preidt

Robert Preidt

Published on December 24, 2003

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