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Holiday Safety Tips for Kids

Tips to help enjoy a safe holiday season

By

Updated December 09, 2009

Don't hang stockings with heavy stocking hangers if you have young kids in the house.

Christmas stockings can be a hidden hazard if they are hung with heavy stocking hangers, which can fall on and injure younger kids.

Photo by Getty Images / Steve Cole
The holidays are a fun time of year for most children, with the anticipation of getting gifts, seeing family and being out of school. It is also an important time of year to be mindful of your children's safety.

Holiday decorations, traveling, new toys, and visiting homes that may not be childproofed, can put your children in danger.

Some simple precautions can help to make sure that your children have a fun and safe holiday.

Childproofing for the Holidays

Most parents understand the importance of childproofing their homes. Gates on stairs, using smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and keeping medicines and poisons out of reach are fairly standard in many homes. In addition to the risks of holiday decorations, younger children can get into trouble if they visit a home during the holidays (or anytime of year) that isn't childproofed.

It is especially likely that a home isn't childproofed if you are visiting grandma and grandpa and they don't usually have children in the house. In addition to not having safety locks on cabinets, gates on stairs, covers on electrical outlets, etc., they may also have prescription medications that aren't in a child resistant container. Things to be especially watchful for, and which you may want to ask about, include:

  • 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?
  • Are there guns in the house? Are they stored unloaded in a locked box with the bullets locked separately?
  • Are there small objects, such as hard candy or nuts in candy dishes, where younger children can get them?
  • Are there gates on the stairs?
  • Are medications, poisons and household cleaners out of reach?
  • Do they have a pet that may harm the children, such as a rottweiler, pit bull or German shepherd?
  • If your child has food allergies, will they be serving that food?
You may think that you will just watch your child more closely, even if the house isn't childproofed, but this is hard if there are a lot of family members and friends present and the kids are all playing together. If there are going to be a lot of younger children present at a holiday gathering, you might consider volunteering to go over before hand and childproof the house for them.

Toy Safety

The following tips will help consumers choose appropriate toys:
  • Select safe toys to suit the age, abilities, skills, and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards to younger children.
  • For infants, toddlers, and all children who still mouth objects, avoid toys with small parts which could pose a fatal choking hazard.
  • Look for sturdy construction, such as tightly secured eyes, noses, and other potential small parts.
  • For all children under age 8, avoid toys that have sharp edges and points.
  • Do not purchase electric toys with heating elements for children under age 8.
  • Be a label reader. Look for labels that give age recommendations and use that information as a guide.
  • Check instructions for clarity. They should be clear to you, and when appropriate, to the child.
  • Immediately discard plastic wrappings on toys, which can cause suffocation, before they become deadly playthings.
  • If your child is going to be getting something that he can ride, such as a bicycle, inline skates, scooter, or a skateboard, be sure that he also gets the appropriate protective equipment, including a helmet and pads.
  • Discourage your kids from playing with BB and pellet guns.
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