The holiday season is a great time for children. But unfamiliar items, distractions, and changes in routine can lead to injuries. Here are some simple steps to keep children safe during the holidays.
Supervise small children at all times during holiday gatherings.
Remember that homes you visit may not be childproofed. Take a survey of any place you visit.
If you plan to drink at a party, leave children at home with a trained, trusted baby sitter. Make sure the sitter knows emergency phone numbers for fire, police, and your doctor. Tell the sitter where to reach you if there is an emergency.
If you are having a party at your home, decide who will look after children. Consider hiring a sitter or designating a family member to look after small children.
Keep visitors’ purses and coat pockets out of reach of young children. Visitors may carry items that could harm a child. These include medicines, makeup, perfume, lighters, or matches.
Clean up right after holiday parties. A toddler could rise early and be exposed to tobacco or alcohol left within his reach. He could also choke on leftover food.
When decorating the house and the Christmas tree, use these tips to prevent fire and injury.
- Buy a freshly cut tree. A freshly cut tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard.
- How to spot a freshly cut tree: The needles bend instead of breaking. The needles do not fall off easily. The tree stump is sticky with resin.
- Place the tree away from sources of heat. These include radiators, televisions, fireplaces, heating ducts, and sunny windows.
- Anchor the tree firmly so it can’t fall on a child. Use a tree stand with widespread legs for better balance. Use a large water reservoir for the tree stump.
- Keep Christmas trees well watered. The base of the tree should always be in water. Dry trees are a fire hazard.
- When the holidays are over, remove the Christmas tree as soon as possible.
Light safety and electrical safety
- Use Canadian Standards Association (CSA) approved light sets. Use the right lights for where you put them. Indoor lights are not weatherproofed for the outdoors. Outdoor lights may burn too hot for the indoors. LED lights generate almost no heat.
- Do not use electric lights on metallic trees. This can cause a shock. Shine floodlights on the tree instead.
- Check all lights, bulbs, sockets, and extension cords. Make sure nothing is frayed, cracked, or broken. To check each set of lights, put them on a non-flammable surface and plug them in for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Do not overload electrical outlets. Do not coil or bunch electrical cords. Do not run cords under carpets or rugs.
- Make sure lights are out of children’s reach.
- Turn off tree lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
Use only flame-resistant decorations. If you have small children or pets:
- Avoid small or breakable ornaments.
- Avoid ornaments with small detachable parts.
- Avoid ornaments that look like food or candy.
- Don’t let children put decorative plants in their mouths.
- Holly and mistletoe are poisonous. If your child has eaten berries from these plants, call your local poison information centre.
- Poinsettia is not very poisonous, but it can still cause irritation and stomach upset.
Keep these tips in mind when buying toys for your children. Make sure that gifts from friends and family are also safe.
- Always buy toys that are age-appropriate, even if your child is advanced for her age. Age recommendations on toys are about safety, not the ability of a child to master the toy or game.
- Inspect toys before giving them to your child. Make sure they are in good condition. Make sure they don’t have parts that could break off and be swallowed.
- Toys for children under three should be bigger than the child’s fist. This will help make sure the child can’t choke on the toy.
- Avoid toys with long strings or cords for babies and toddlers. If a child plays with them unsupervised, he could strangle.
- Make sure battery-operated toys are in good condition. Old batteries can leak and cause corrosive burns. If swallowed, button-type batteries can cause internal chemical burns or poisoning.
- Don’t give toys with magnets to small children. Magnets can cause serious injury or death if children swallow them.
- If you are driving, pay extra attention to road safety.
- Use appropriate car seats, booster seats, and seat belts for your children. This is a must every time you drive, during the holidays and all year round.
- Plan ahead. If you are travelling in someone else’s car, arrange to borrow or rent the appropriate car seat.
- Drive with extra caution during the holidays. There is more risk of hazards like heavy traffic, poor weather, and other drivers using alcohol.