Keeping your kids safe during the holiday season is important, and there are some dangers that we may not recognize. Before the holidays are in full swing at your house, take a look at these potential dangers to your kids and take action before someone gets hurt.
"The joy of the season can turn into tragedy in the blink of an eye if preventative measures are not taken to keep kids safe," says Curtis Knoles, M.D., a pediatric emergency physician and the director of emergency medical services for children at OU Medical Center at the University of Oklahoma. "There are so many ways for kids to get injured over the holidays. From traveling to a relative's house to finding danger in a home that's not 'kid safe,' the risks of injury are increased," says Dr. Knoles.
He encourages parents to watch their kids while they are playing and eating during the holidays and to watch for small items such as coins, toys or food that may fall within your children's reach.
Decorating your home with beautiful greenery this holiday season? Many of the plants that we use to decorate our home during the holidays are potentially poisonous to children and pets. If your child is still at the crawling-around-and-"tasting"-things stage, avoid indoor plants such as Jerusalem cherry, poinsettias, mistletoe and holly. If your child develops a rash, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, it may be a sign of plant poisoning, and you should call your doctor or the Poison Control hotline at 1-800-222-1222.
Many holiday gatherings include a signature cocktail, eggnog with a kick or even just a cooler full of favorite beers. Sure, you're only serving alcoholic drinks to the adult guests, but watch out for the leftovers. Be sure to remove all leftovers and dump unused portions down the drain. Kids love to imitate adults, and small children may see partially filled cups lying around during or after the party and may take a taste. You may assume that the taste of alcoholic drinks would be a deterrent, but many cocktails are sweet and don't have that strong alcohol taste. Tiny bodies take less alcohol to be technically drunk, and alcohol poisoning is a serious danger.
During holiday parties, people really pull out the pots and pans and dig into their favorite recipes. Little ones love to help, but letting them help means they are at risk of ingesting potential contaminants. Let the little ones measure flour and sugar, pour chocolate chips, measure water or oil, stir or add muffin cups to the muffin tins. Keep them away from raw meat, fish, poultry and raw eggs. Their tiny tummies will thank you.
Choking hazards are always an issue with little ones, but there are lots of new things introduced into your home during the holidays that you need to add to your "worry" list. Tree ornaments, small light bulbs and the shiny tinsel that many people hang from tree branches are very attractive to curious little ones. Be careful of anything that is small enough to fit into your young toddler's or baby's mouth and that could easily become a choking hazard.
Many holiday treats and buffet-table staples are choking hazards for your little ones. Watch out for nuts and popcorn, those small cocktail hot dogs served as appetizers, marshmallows, hard candies, soft cheeses (like Brie) that can become lodged in the throat and any interesting-looking treats that will draw your child's attention. Surprisingly enough, even the needles from your Christmas tree can become lodged deep in the throat and cause problems — so watch your little ones closely.
We all know to keep our children away from the stove, but once holiday entertaining kicks into high gear, it's easy to forget the dangers. Multiple pots and pans on the stove top are a greater scalding danger simply because there are more distractions. Watch for handles that face out and are tempting to grab, and always keep the door to the oven closed.
Candles are great holiday decorations, whether in a menorah or in a Christmas display — but the dangers to your young child are serious. Consider using LED candles, which now have a flickering appearance to make them look more realistic.
Dangers seem to lurk around every corner when you have infants and toddlers. But when you take an extra few minutes to assess the surroundings — whether at a holiday block party or when hosting your own gift exchange — you are helping your kids to stay safe while celebrating a happy holiday. That may be the best gift of all!
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