Holiday Safety Tips

November 21, 2012

The holidays are an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday season, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).   

Trees: When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant." When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.

When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators or portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.

Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.

Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly. 

Lights: Check all tree lights--even if you've just purchased them--before hanging them on your tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.

 Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted. 

Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.  

Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks. 

Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.  

Decorations: Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals. Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked over.

 In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to prevent them from swallowing or inhaling small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.

 Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair." Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.  

Remove all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child or can cause a fire if near flame.   

Toy Safety: Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child.  Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children. To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don’t give young children (under age 10) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated. 

Young children can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.  

Children can have serious stomach and intestinal problems – including death -- after swallowing button batteries and magnets. In addition to toys, button batteries are often found in musical greeting cards, remote controls, hearing aids and other small electronics. Keep them away from young children and call your health care provider immediately if your child swallows one.  

Food Safety: Bacteria are often present in raw foods. Fully cook meats and poultry, and thoroughly wash raw vegetables and fruits.

 Be sure to keep hot liquids and food away from the edges of counters and tables, where they can be easily knocked over by a young child’s exploring hands. Be sure that young children cannot access microwave ovens.  

Wash your hands frequently, and make sure your children do the same. Never put a spoon used to taste food back into food without washing it. Always keep raw foods and cooked foods separately, and use separate utensils when preparing them. Always thaw meat in the refrigerator, never on the countertop. Foods that require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours.                          

 Fireplaces: Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open. Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children. Do not burn gift wrap paper in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

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