The holiday season is one of the most exciting times of the year for your little ones, but it’s also a time when kids can be at risk for injuries. More than 3,200 children are seen in emergency rooms for injuries caused by nonelectric Christmas decorations and another 500 kids a day are treated in emergency rooms for toy-related injuries.
The holidays are a time when many families decorate their homes, travel to see family and friends, and eat lots of great food. But with all these activities come safety risks that we may not always think about. By reminding ourselves of a few safety tips, the holidays can be safer and more fun for everyone.
1. Check your car seat before holiday travel. 73 percent of car seats are not used or installed correctly, so before you hit the road, check your car seat. Follow a quick car seat checklist to help you out. If you are having even the slightest trouble, questions or concerns, certified child passenger safety technicians can help or even double check your work.
2. Bulky coats and car seats don’t mix. If it’s cold outside, cover babies and young children with a thick blanket to keep them warm, after they’re strapped securely into their seat. Bulky winter clothes and coats can keep a car seat from doing its job.
3. Find the perfect toy for the right age. Consider your child’s age when purchasing a toy or game this holiday season. Before you’ve settled on the perfect toy, check to make sure there aren’t any small parts or other potential choking hazards. Remember to buy a helmet when you buy a wheeled sport gift (bike, scooter, skateboard, etc.).
4. Keep button batteries away from young kids. Keep a special eye on small pieces, including button batteries that may be included in electronic toys. While these kinds of games are great for older kids, they can pose a potential danger for younger, curious siblings.
5. Make sure your home has a carbon monoxide alarm. As with smoke alarms, install a carbon monoxide alarm on every level of your home, especially near sleeping areas, and keep them at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances.
6. Engage older kids in cooking. Teach older, responsible kids how to cook safely. Teach them never to leave the kitchen while they’re using the stove or oven, to use oven mitts or potholders when handling hot items and show them how to operate a microwave safely.
7. Plan for safe sleep and more. Maybe your holiday travel plans mean you’ll be spending the night somewhere other than home. Some of us are fine with crashing on the couch, but make sure your baby has a safe place to sleep. While you’re at it, it’s the perfect time to check that the house where you’re staying has a working carbon monoxide alarm and smoke alarm.
8. Be smart about warming up. Don’t leave a car engine running inside a garage. If you’re heating up a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Also, during severe weather, don’t use a grill, generator or camping stove inside your home, garage or near a window. Install carbon monoxide alarms to protect against fuel-burning emergencies.
9. 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 towards the top of the tree. That makes room at the bottom for the ones that are safer for young kids.
10. Check the lights. Lights are one of the best parts of holiday decorating. Check the ones on your tree and in and around your home for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets.
11. Blow out candles and store matches out of reach. Keep holiday candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn, and don’t forget to blow them out when you leave the room or before you go to sleep. Make a habit of placing matches and lighters in a safe place, out of children’s reach.
12. Keep harmful plants out of reach. Plants can spruce up your holiday decorating, but keep those that may be poisonous out of reach of children or pets. This includes mistletoe berries, holly berry, and Jerusalem cherry. In a poison emergency, call the National Poison Control Center at 1- 800-222-1222.
For more tips on how to help kids safe, visit www.chp.edu/injury-prevention.