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Keeping Kids Safe at the Holidays
It often is said that the holidays belong to the children. But it is also true that children are at greater risk of injury during the holiday season. Kids Health has some suggestions for how you can keep children safe from these common threats:
Some of the bright or pretty trimmings of the season can be toxic to kids, including mistletoe, holly, poinsettias and Jerusalem cherry. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea as well as rashes.
Kids love bubble lights, but the fluid that makes them work can contain methylene chloride, which can be dangerous to children if they drink it.
If you are serving alcohol during a holiday gathering, take care to keep it away from kids. Children often drink out of the glasses of adults, so watch your drink and ask others to watch theirs. And always remove and empty all glasses immediately. Even small amounts of alcohol can cause alcohol poisoning in kids.
Food poisoning can occur at any time, but there is special concern during the holiday season, with its extensive entertaining. Follow good food-handling practices by washing hands, utensils and dishes thoroughly. Store leftovers promptly and properly, and make sure to heat them appropriately before serving.
If you suspect that a child has eaten something that could be dangerous, call your doctor or a poison control center. The National Poison Center can be reached at (800) 222-1222.
Choking and Swallowing
Decorations such as ornaments, lights, tinsel and small toys can cause choking if a child puts them in his or her mouth.
Peanuts, popcorn and other common holiday treats are not safe for young children. If you serve them at a gathering, put them where children can’t reach.
Tree needles, angel hair and ornament hangars can cause cuts, skin irritation or eye damage if children swallow or play with them.
Never leave candles, space heaters or fireplaces unattended. Keep trees away from heat sources, and unplug all lights and extinguish all fires before you leave the house or go to bed.
Never light candles near drapes, paper or other flammable things.
Don’t overload your electrical circuits by plugging too many things into one outlet.
Have your chimney inspected before you start using it each season, and use a screen. Don’t burn paper or boughs in your fireplace, because that can send burning embers up the chimney.
The increase in cooking during the holidays also increases the risk of cooking injuries. Turn pot handles away from the front of the stove, and keep an eye on the kids – or have someone else do so – while you cook. Clean your appliances so that a buildup of grease does not cause a fire.
Be careful with breakable ornaments and decorations. If something breaks, clean it up quickly and thoroughly.
Take care when driving. Make sure kids are wearing seat belts or in proper child-safety seats, and never drink and drive. Be especially careful during bad weather or at night.
If your holiday plans call for sledding, make sure to supervise kids and choose sledding hills that are clear of crowds and obstacles.