Dec 20 2011
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Recommended Reading: Holiday Safety Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics

The holidays are an exciting and warm time of year -- but they can also pose some unique dangers. To help ensure you have a safe holiday season, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Trees:

  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators or portable heaters, and out of the way.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Be sure to keep the stand filled with water; heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.

Lights:

  • Check all tree lights--even if you've just purchased them--before hanging them on the tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted. Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them. Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

Decorations:

  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked over.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to prevent them from swallowing or inhaling small pieces.
  • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.

Toy Safety

  • To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don’t give children under age 10 a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
  • Children under age three can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
  • Children can have serious stomach and intestinal problems – including death -- after swallowing button batteries and magnets. Keep them away from young children and call your health care provider immediately if your child swallows one.
  • Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
  • Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
  • Remove all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child or can cause a fire if they come near a flame.

Bonus Tip: Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could wake up early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.

Read More Safety Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics here.

Tags: Recommended Reading, Safety