This season brings more hazards and more distraction. Here’s how to combat dangers and safeguard holiday safety.
The holiday season is something we look forward to, but once it is here, the hustle and bustle seems to really get the best of us. Between the grocery list, the gift list and addressing the Christmas cards, it’s easy to overlook details that make the difference between a safe or a hazardous holiday. To keep your family safe this season, keep these things in mind:
Inside your home:
• Decorate your tree with your kids in mind. Kids are curious and will want to play with the ornaments on the tree, so you might as well prepare. Move the ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks toward the top of the tree. That makes room at the bottom for ones that are safer for young children to handle.
• Water the tree regularly. Natural trees look beautiful and smell great, but if they’re not watered regularly, needles can dry out and pose a potential fire hazard. Make sure your tree has plenty of water by checking it regularly. Never use lighted candles near trees, boughs, curtains or drapes, or with any potentially flammable item.
• Prevent spills with pot handles. Kids love to reach, so to prevent burns from hot holiday food or liquid spills, simply use the back burner of your stove and turn pot handles away from the edge.
• Find the perfect toy for the right age. Make sure there aren’t any small parts or other potential choking hazards on or in the toys you give to children. Products are given age recommendations for safety reasons, so stick to the suggested ages. But also keep in mind each child develops at his or her own pace. If your preschooler still tends to pop everything in his mouth, for example, don’t give him a toy with a lot of small detachable parts. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is a great resource to check the reliability and safety of some of those favorite toys.
• Don’t forget a helmet for new bikes or other wheels. If your child’s heart is set on a bike, skateboard or scooter this holiday season, be sure to include a helmet to keep them safe while they’re having fun. Don’t put yourself or your children at risk for injury and brain trauma by skipping the bike helmet. Wear a properly fitted helmet every time you are on a bike! Check out how to fit your child’s helmet correctly by clicking here.
Outside the home:
• Watch out for distracted drivers and pedestrians. Shopping center parking lots are busier during the holidays. Keep an eye out for distracted pedestrians and drivers who may not be paying attention to you, especially when backing out of parking spaces.
• Make sure every passenger has a seat belt, car seat or booster seat. Remember to buckle up every ride, every time, whether it’s the long trip to visit family or around the block to the mall. Check your car seat before holiday travel. Seventy-three percent of car seats are not used or installed correctly, so check it before you hit the road. Click here for car seat fitting stations near you!
• Expect the unexpected on the road. Be prepared for emergency situations on the road by having a winter “survival kit” in the vehicle, including items such as a working flashlight, extra batteries, reflective triangles, a compass, first aid kit, exterior windshield cleaner, ice scraper, snow brush, wooden stick matches in a waterproof container and non-perishable, high-energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits and hard candy. Click here for more tips on safe travel with your family.
• Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots like unlocked cabinets, unattended purses, accessible cleaning or laundry products, stairways or hot radiators and space heaters.
Children are curious by nature, especially around the holidays. Many medications look and taste like candy. While it’s important to encourage our kids to explore and discover new things, when it comes to medication, we want to be careful to keep them safe. Here are a few tips to show you how.
• Put all medicines away and out of sight, including your own. Make sure that all medicines and vitamins are stored out of reach and out of sight of children. In most emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the child got into medicine belonging to a parent or grandparent.
• Consider places where kids get into medicine. Kids discover medications in all sorts of places, including purses and nightstands. Be smart about where you store your medication!
• Consider products you might not think about as medicines. Most parents believe they’ve stored medicine properly, but they sometimes overlook products they don’t consider medicine. For example: diaper rash remedies, vitamins and eye drops aren’t usually thought of as “medicine,” but they’re not meant for a child to ingest and need to be stored safely.
• Put the toll-free, Poison Help Number into your home and cell phone: 1-800-222-1222. You can also put the number on your refrigerator door or another place in your home where babysitters and caregivers can see it.
The holiday season is a time for family, friends and wonderful food. Incorporating the safety tips listed above into all of your holiday preparations will help you and your family stay safe and injury-free.
Emily Riley is an injury prevention program coordinator at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital with a background in adolescent health and development. When she is not working, Emily enjoys running, cooking and baking, being outdoors, exploring local coffee shops and spending time with the people she loves. She also has a hard time putting down a good book.