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Advice From Our Experts

Safety Tips on Keeping the Holidays Merry and Bright

It’s easy to get wrapped up in holiday festivities—even easier to overlook common household items that can end up being hazardous to your child. To keep your family’s holiday merry and bright, the Injury Prevention Program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles put together these tips on safe decorating, being away from home and easing your child’s stress levels.

Deck the Halls

Christmas Trees – Decorate your tree with your kids in mind

  1. Choose a fire resistant artificial tree or a fresh live tree, which should be green and with needles that are hard to pull off.
  2. Keep the stand of your live tree filled with water and keep the tree away from the fireplace and radiator.
  3. Make sure the tree is secure and cannot easily tip over.
  4. Avoid fragile ornaments, tinsel and small decorations when possible. Otherwise, should not be placed near the bottom of the tree where it can be easily accesses by young children.
  5. Keep presents tucked safely under the tree to avoid tripping or stepping on fragile items.
  6. Check your lights before using them on your tree. Inspect the lights for broken sockets, loose connections and exposed or frayed wires, which could cause a fire.

Holiday Lights

Safety Tips on Keeping the Holidays Merry and Bright
  1. Do not use lights that are damaged.
  2. Don’t overload electrical outlets.
  3. Avoid using more than three sets of lights on a single extension cord.

Holiday Decorations

  1. Should be flame resistant and made of non-leaded materials.
  2. Avoid edible decorations, including popcorn chains and candy canes. Younger children may think all decorations are edible.
  3. Candles should never be left unattended. Place in a safe area to avoid flammable curtains, decorations or being knocked over.
  4. Heavy stocking holders should be used in caution around young children. They may easily pull on the stockings, bringing the holders down on top of themselves.
  5. Keep poisonous plants out of reach of children and pets. This includes mistletoe berries, holly berry, Jerusalem cherry and some poinsettias.

No Place Like Home For the Holidays

Children can get into trouble or worse, be at a higher risk of injury, when they visit a home during the holidays (or any time) that is not childproofed. You may think that you will just watch your child more closely, but this can be hard if there are many family members, friends and other children present.

Questions to ask the home you are visiting:

  1. Do they have a pool? Does it have a fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate? Can the children get to the area where the pool is located?
  2. Are there small objects, such as hard candy or nuts in candy dishes, where younger children can get them?
  3. Are there gates on the stairs?
  4. Are medications, poisons and household cleaners out of reach?
  5. Are there guns in the house? Are they stored unloaded in a locked box with the bullets locked separately?
  6. Do they have any pets that may harm the children?
  7. If your child has food allergies, will they be serving that food?

Cheers, Not Jeers

The holidays can be stressful for some children. Traveling, visiting family members, getting presents, shopping, etc., can all increase your child's stress levels.

  1. Dress your child appropriately for the weather so that he doesn't get too wet or cold.
  2. Keep car seat harnesses tight, even with heavier coats and jackets. If harnesses are adjusted for coats/jackets, the padding from them will compress in a crash and cause for gaps in car seat and your child.
  3. Also keep a close eye on your children when shopping, as it is easily to get lost or taken in a busy store or shopping center.
  4. Trying to stick to your child's usual routines, including sleep schedules and timing of naps, can help you and your child enjoy the holidays and reduce stress.