With the holiday season approaching, the American Academy of Pediatrics reminds parents to keep the family safe and healthy by practicing these tips.
- 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 that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully. If the toy is appropriate for your child, show him how to use it properly.
- Be careful of holiday gift wrapping, like bags, paper, ribbons and bows. These items can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child.
- Children under age 3 can choke on small parts contained in toys or games and balls with a diameter of one and three-quarters of an inch or less. Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons.
- Watch for strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
- Make sure your child's gloves and shoes stay dry. If either becomes wet, change your child into a dry pair.
- Sledding on or into the roadway should be prohibited. Look for shallow slopes that are free of obstacles such as trees and fences.
- Cutting down your own tree for the holiday may start a wonderful family tradition. Young children can pick out the tree while an adult does the chopping.
- 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.
Warm, Bright and Safe
- Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially outside each bedroom.
- Use a sturdy fireplace screen to prevent sparks from igniting newspapers, carpeting, curtains and upholstery.
- Only use the fireplace when you're home and awake. Extinguish the fire when you go out or at bedtime.
- Plugging lights directly into sockets and limiting the use of extension cords will cut down on the chances of a fire.
- If an electrical cord feels warm to the touch, it's probably working too hard and is a fire hazard.
- 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 childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots.
- Ask your neighbor if they have a gun before sending your kids over to play. If the answer is yes, you need to make absolutely sure that all guns are stored unloaded and locked - ideally in a gun safe - with ammunition locked separately. Include the question along with other things you might normally discuss before sending your child to someone's house.
- Keep a laminated list with all of the important phone numbers you or a baby-sitter are likely to need in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department, your pediatrician and the poison control center.