Keeping the Holidays Safe

The American Academy of Pediatrics reminds parents to keep the holidays happy by remembering these tips for safety.

Holiday safety tips and spotting potential hazards, like a model trainset
Holiday safety tips and spotting potential hazards, like a model trainset

Reviewed on November 29, 2017

With the holiday season approaching, the American Academy of Pediatrics reminds parents to keep the family safe and healthy by practicing these tips.

Toy Safety

  • 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.

Outdoor Fun

  • 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.

Food Safety

  • 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.

Happy Visiting

  • 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.

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