The holidays are an exciting time of year for children, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday season, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
- 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 avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
- Make sure candles are never left unattended or placed in an area where they can be knocked down.
- Follow recommended age ranges on toy packages. Toys that are too advanced could be a safety hazard for younger children.
- Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy received as a gift, read the instructions carefully. If the toy is appropriate for your child, demonstrate how to use it properly.
- Be careful of holiday gift wrapping, like bags, paper, ribbons and bows. These items pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child.
- To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, do not give young children (under age 10) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
- Children under age 3 can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age 3 cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
- Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons. Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
- Watch for pull toys with strings that exceed 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
- 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 foods away from the edges of counters and tables, where they can be easily knocked over by a young child's exploring hands.
- 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 separate, 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.
- Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
- Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproof. Keep an eye out for danger spots.
- Keep a list with all of the important phone numbers you or a child care provider are likely to need in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department, your pediatrician and the poison control center.
- Ask your neighbor if there is a firearm present in the home before sending your children over to play. If the answer is yes, you need to make absolutely sure that all firearms are stored unloaded and locked - ideally in a gun safe container - with ammunition locked separately. Include the question along with other things you might normally discuss before sending your child to someone's house.
2003 - American Academy of Pediatrics