Tips for Parents: Christmas Safety | PDF
Candles, plants, strings of lights, visiting pets…while Christmas often brings lots of joy to our homes, it also creates opportunity for our children to be hurt—if we don’t take appropriate safety measures. In Tips for Parents: Christmas Safety, learn how to spot Christmas dangers and prevent injury.
- Christmas lights: check all bulbs to make sure they’re working; inspect the cord to make sure it isn’t worn, cracked, or bare; avoid using extension cords—instead, purchase strings of lights that are long enough to reach. Always turn off lights when they’ll be unattended, such as when you leave the house or go to sleep. Consider using a timer in case you forget.
- Dry/dead trees, wreaths, garlands, etc.: A dry or dead tree is extremely flammable. Make sure your tree isn’t losing needles when you purchase it, trim the trunk so it isn’t sealed in sap, and keep it well watered. Check it daily to make sure it has enough water and is in good health. Keep heat and flame sources away at all times. Check your Candles: candles create a warm and cozy atmosphere, but they can quickly start a fire. Keep matches and candles out of kids’ and pets’ reach. Trim wicks regularly, burn candles on a hard, heat resistant surface well away from fabrics or other flammable items, and never leave a candle unattended. You should never use candles to light or decorate a tree.
- Fireplaces/stoves: before lighting a fire in your stove or fireplace, ensure that it has been properly cleaned and maintained. Never leave it unattended. Protect against sparks by keeping screens closed, and keep glass doors closed on gas fireplaces. Don’t leave a child in the room unattended for even a second.
A number of items and substances in your house at Christmas are poisoning hazards for children and pets:
- Plants: Mistletoe and Poinsettias are both harmful, as are many other holiday plants such as Holly, Amaryllis, and Christmas Cherry. Look for plastic Mistletoe and consider silk arrangements rather than real plants. If you must have these plants for the holidays, ensure they are out of kids’ reach and make sure they can’t be accidentally knocked down or fall where a child could reach them.
- Lead poisoning: most Christmas light strings contain dangerous levels of lead. Either keep your lights where a child can’t reach them, or leave lights out of your decorating until your children are old enough to know not to touch them. You should always wash your hands thoroughly after handling them.
- Carbon Monoxide: Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can quickly and silently kill. To reduce the risk: make certain all heating and fuel burning appliances are checked and maintained by a professional at the beginning of every heating season. Never use a gas oven or charcoal grill indoors—even if the electricity is out and you need to heat your home or cook food. Likewise, never use a portable generator or other gas powered engines such as weed eaters, chain saws or snow blowers in the home or any enclosed area. Install and maintain a carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home.
Decorations and visitors are both a source of items kids can choke on. Reduce the risk of choking by avoiding:
- Hard candy and nuts. These are often left on tables for guests to nibble, but kids can quickly choke. Keep them out of children’s reach.
- Decorations: ornaments, tinsel, silk plants and other decorating items are either easily broken/pulled apart or contain small parts that a child can stick in their mouth. The best way to avoid choking on these items is to keep them out of reach. Consider a small tree you can put on a table or counter where kids can’t touch it rather than a full-sized one that you’ll constantly have to monitor.
- Paper and ribbon: ribbon presents both a strangle and a choking hazard and paper can easily be torn and put in the mouth. Crawlers and toddlers are easily drawn to bright colored or shiny objects so again, keep gifts and wrapping out of kids’ reach. And after gifts are open, inspect the area for any stray pieces.
Other Christmas Safety Risks and Tips for Parents:
A disruption in routine and visiting family and friends all increase the risk of injury during the holidays. Remain vigilant, keep children in sight, and look out for:
Doors and safety gates: ensure they remain shut and everyone knows to close them after they pass.
- Dogs: many people consider their dogs to be part of the family and bring them along when they travel. But some dogs aren’t used to being around children and may become scared or aggressive with a child. Never leave children unattended around unfamiliar dogs and avoid having a child near a dog’s food.
- Chemicals/medicines/poisonous substances: cleaning products, lighter fluid, medication and other substances can accidentally be left where children can reach. Ask visitors to be vigilant about keeping dangerous items out of reach. Remember one cigarette butt has enough nicotine to harm a child if they eat it.
- Leaving children in cars: children should never be left alone in a car—no matter the weather. So even though you might be tempted to leave a sleeping infant in the car seat while you run into the store to grab a quick item on your list, DON’T! Also keep in mind that a change in schedule during a busy time can result in forgetting a child in a car—one of the most frequent ways kids are forgotten and injured or killed in an overheated or frozen car. Take time to review your schedule and always look in the back seat to ensure you haven’t forgotten your little one.
- Toys: toys and children’s products should be age appropriate. If you’re not sure what is appropriate, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Toy Safety Shopping Tips. For safety recalls, visit Toy Hazard Recalls.
From all of us at The Learning Community, best wishes for a safe, happy and healthy holiday season!
For more information:
A Season for Sharing Fire Safety from the U.S. Fire Safety Administration
You may also find these related tips for parents helpful:
For Kids’ Sake Think Toy Safety
Leaving Children Unattended in Cars
Tips for Parents: Holiday Budgets
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