Tips on Avoiding Holiday Hazards for Kids
It’s beginning to look a lot like the time of year
to child-proof homes for the holidays.
“Around the holidays, families bring a lot of new
items into their homes that seem innocent,” said Michael Mitchell, M.D., pediatric emergency medicine physician at Brenner Children’s Hospital, part of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “Some of these items such as animated
decorations, mistletoe, bubble lights used as Christmas tree decorations and
even musical cards can pose a potential threat to young children though.”
also known as button batteries, are often found in small animated toys or
decorations, musical greeting cards, flashing holiday jewelry and flameless
candles, according to Mitchell. Children can have serious intestinal and
esophageal complications – including death – after swallowing one of these.
“Lithium batteries are
circular, flat and vary in size,” said Mitchell. “Parents should ensure
products containing these batteries are properly secured and if it’s suspected
a child has swallowed a battery, the child should immediately be taken to an
ornaments also can pose a threat to young children and should be placed higher
than the child’s reach. Ornaments can be swallowed by a child and present a
choking risk or cause lacerations to the gastrointestinal tract or skin since
they are often made of glass, according to Mitchell. If it’s suspected a child
has ingested an ornament, the child should immediately be treated at an
For a safe holiday
season, Mitchell and the American Academy of Pediatrics offer these additional
- Clean up carefully
after wrapping gifts. Certain tapes, ribbons and wrapping paper—especially
shiny foil paper—can contain lead.
allow children access to bubble lights. This decoration contains methylene
chloride and can be poisonous if swallowed.
holly berries, mistletoe, poinsettias and Jerusalem cherry plants away from
children. Ingestion can pose potential poisoning risks.
- Helmets should always be worn when
riding bicycles, scooters or skateboards.
- Select toys to suit the age,
abilities and skill level of the intended child. Toys too advanced can
pose safety hazards for younger children.
- Read instructions carefully
before buying or allowing a child to play with a toy.
- Remove tags, strings and
ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
- Avoid pull toys with strings
that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation
hazard for babies.
“Over the holidays, many families
with young children will also be visiting extended-family who may not have a
child-proofed home—parents should be especially watchful when visiting these
environments,” said Mitchell. “Parents should pay special attention to
stairwells that are not gated, uncovered electrical outlets and any medications
that are within a young child’s reach.”