December 05, 2017
Anyone with little ones at home has experienced the joys of childproofing. As your baby becomes mobile it seems like everything is a threat. Just when you think you’ve plugged up all the outlets, gated up the stairs and hid all the breakables, here comes the holiday season bringing in a bunch of new hazards.
Since Killian recently started walking, I have a little drunken sailor teetering around, adding extra worry to my mind. I want to continue the Christmas traditions that my husband and I have started, like getting a really big tree, but I also need to ensure our son is not in danger in his own house.
Every holiday season, thousands of children in America endure preventable injuries. In 2016, there were more than 174,100 toy-related injuries treated in emergency rooms across the country. Seven children age 15 and younger died from these injuries. More candle-related home fires happen in December than any other month of the year. Long ribbons can be strangulation hazards. Lights may contain lead. The list goes on and on.
It may seem like danger is lurking around every corner once the decorations start to go up, but there are plenty of ways to celebrate the holidays while keeping your kids safe and giving yourself some peace of mind. As you are trimming the tree, shopping for presents, attending holiday parties, and decorating your home here are a few things to keep in mind to prevent a Clark Griswold-style catastrophe.
If you are buying a real tree, make sure it isn’t too dry by checking how many needles drop when you lightly move it. Cut an inch off the trunk before bringing it in and keep it well-watered. Going for an artificial tree? Do research to make sure it is the safest kind labeled Fire Resistant. Keep your Christmas tree out of high traffic areas and away from heating vents and fireplaces.
When decorating, be mindful about where you place the ornaments. Any decorations within a child’s reach will be grabbed, thrown and if your little one is like mine, put straight in his mouth. Keep those ornaments, garland, lights and beads high enough that your baby and toddler can’t touch. Tipping is a common tree hazard so use a sturdy tree stand. You may also want to secure your tree to the wall using some twine and eyehooks or put a safety gate in front of it. Never leave your little ones unattended around the tree.
What is a Christmas tree without twinkling lights? Even if yours are brand-new, inspect all of your lights to ensure the bulbs are secure and there are not any frayed wires or broken sockets that could pose a fire hazard. Some lights and strung beads can contain lead, which is really dangerous to children. Check the labels, keep out of reach and wash your hands after handling.
When decorating your exterior, use lights that have been designed for outdoor use and plug all outdoor electric decorations into outlets with ground fault circuit interrupters. If you are using real candles to celebrate Hanukkah, or for your décor, place far away from little ones, never on a tablecloth or around combustible materials, and do not leave unattended. More than 10 percent of home candle fires in December begin with decorations.
When buying for your little one, mind the age recommendations. If your child receives a toy that is designed for older children, put it away until they are mature enough to enjoy. Better to be safe than sorry. Batteries, magnets and small parts are just a few of the hazards that can be contained in toys. Inspect everything when it comes out of the package. If you have kids of all ages opening presents and playing together, give the older kids a baby-free area to eliminate concern about the little ones getting into toys that they should not.
Riding toys, like scooters, were associated with the most toy-related injuries last year. If your child receives one, make sure he has the proper safety gear – like a helmet – before using. Once the toys are opened, get the wrapping paper and ribbons out of the room. These items can pose choking, strangulation and suffocation hazards to kids.
If you are hosting a party, you can take all necessary precautions to ensure the children in your home will be safe and secure. But when you are the guest, there are many more things left to chance. Keeping a close eye on your children will prevent most problems at upcoming parties. Also be on the watch for potentially poisonous holiday plants like mistletoe and holly berries, choking hazards like small decorations or food items, and lit candles or other flammables. Bring some toys or books that will keep your little ones entertained. When attending a party in someone’s home, try to keep your kids of the kitchen where the potential for burns or other hot-food related calamities could occur. And be sure to keep an eye on the buffet and the bar; many of the things offered around the holidays are not appropriate for little ones to eat or drink.
I am fully aware that at times I come off as an overly protective (read: neurotic) Mama. I know that I cannot safeguard my son from everything and growing up means bumps and bruises, booboos and Band-Aids. My job as Killian’s mother is to protect him as best I can while encouraging his sense of curiosity, adventure and fun. During the holiday season it is paramount that I am mindful of potential threats and eliminate common dangers so my family can enjoy the remainder of 2017 and ring in the New Year.
Hopefully without a trip to the ER.
I hope you and your family enjoy a happy and safe holiday season!