For many families, the holiday season can be one of the busiest times of the year. Keeping these safety tips from Amy Frias, CHOC Community Educator and Safe Kids Orange County coordinator, in mind can help ensure your family stays safe while partaking in all the fun and festive experiences the season has to offer.
Holiday-time safety tips for families with kids and teens
Practice fire safety
- Real trees become a fire hazard if not watered regularly. Artificial trees should be flame-resistant. Trees should not be placed near a heat source.
- Keep candles away from anything flammable, and store matches and lighters out of reach of children. Lit candles should be placed at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn. Make sure to blow out candles out when you leave the room or before you go to sleep.
- If you are using your fireplace, remove any nearby decorations. It’s common to hang up your stockings on the fireplace, which is fine, but just remove them when you plan to use it.
- Don’t ever throw wrapping paper in a fire – it can be dangerous due to the chemicals in the wrapping paper.
- Check your smoke alarms. Make sure there is a working smoke alarm on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and near sleeping areas.
Decorate with safety in mind
- Move breakable ornaments with metal hooks to the top of the tree. This leaves room for you to invite your young kids to decorate the bottom of the tree with non-breakable ornaments.
- Be mindful of pretty but poisonous holiday plants like mistletoe and holly – keep them out of reach of children. Poinsettias can upset little one’s tummies or cause rashes if consumed. Keep the phone number for Poison Control (1-800-222-1222) in your contacts or visible on the fridge.
- Purchase only strands of lights that have a “UL Listed” mark. UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories Inc., the most relied-on global source for determining the safety standards of products.
- Make sure to inspect your lights for frayed cords or broken bulbs before putting them up, and don’t connect more than three strands of lights to one extension cord. Turn off decorative lights before leaving your home or going to sleep.
Safe toys are the best toys
- Check age-appropriate toys for small parts, button batteries or other choking hazards like strings or small parts before gifting to small children.
- When gifting a wheel-based gift (bike, scooter or skateboard), make sure a properly fitting helmet and safety pads are part of the gift as well.
- Stay up to date on child-related product recalls. Safe Kids Worldwide sends bimonthly email alerts with children’s product recalls. Sign up for emails.
Food and kitchen safety
- Wash hands before, during and after food preparation.
- Cook on the back burner to prevent burns.
- Keep baking ingredients out of reach of kids. Yummy-smelling extracts like vanilla or almond extracts are poisonous if consumed by kids.
- Keep alcohol out of reach of children.
- Create a kid-free zone. Teach young children to stay at least three feet away from cooking surfaces.
- Children over age 2 must have their own seat on an airplane.
- Bring your own car seat whenever possible.
- Remember the home you are visiting may not be child-proof, so keep an eye on cabinets, unattended purses, stairways and furniture near windows.
Holiday-time safety reminders for kids and teens
Remind your kids and teens to be safe during the busy holiday season. Amy offers the following reminders to kids:
- No playing with matches or lighters! Enjoy candles and fires from a safe distance.
- Be careful with ornaments or decorations that are glass or have sharp edges. If one breaks, don’t move! Avoid stepping on broken glass. Let your parent know so they can clean it up safely.
- If you are a teen who drives, drive slowly during the holiday season. Watch for traffic and weather hazards.
- Know where emergency numbers are and how to use them. If something feels off or there’s an emergency, let an adult know right away.
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For more important tips to prevent injuries in children and teens, visit choc.org/safety.