Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Make sure your holiday is safe for your kids

I received the following press release (from BC Children's Hospital) on how to keep your children safe this holiday season. Read it through before you embark on your Christmas festivities -- there is a lot of good information here.
If you are a parent or caregiver of young children, take extra precautions to ensure a safe and happy holiday season. Choking, poisoning, and fireplace burns are serious dangers for young children, particularly at this time of year.

Every year, there are new parents who may not be aware of how holiday celebrations can be hazardous to infants and toddlers. “Even experienced parents may not be aware of the risks and dangers,” says Alyson McKendrick, Coordinator, Safe Start, the injury prevention program at BC Children's Hospital, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. “It’s easy to become distracted during the holiday season, but by taking a few simple measures, parents can enjoy the festivities without having to worry about their children being injured.”

Safe Start offers the following tips to prevent injuries during the holidays.

Trees and Decorations. A child learns about objects by touching, feeling, and tasting. Decorative, colored tree lights can be appealing for young children to put in their mouths, which can cause severe burns. Young children can also pull trees onto themselves when they try to pull on decorative ornaments or try to pull themselves to a standing position using the bottom branches. Be aware that trimmings that look like candy or food may provide an extra appeal to young children to put the item in their mouths, which can cause choking.
  • Make sure your Christmas tree is secure.
  • Never use lit candles on a tree or near evergreens. Always use non-flammable lights and decorations, or avoid incandescent decorative lights completely.
  • Take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable.
  • Keep small, removable parts of ornaments out of children’s reach.
Hanukkah Traditions. Curious young children will be attracted to flickering lights of a menorah and can easily get burned, and dreidels can pose a choking hazard.
  • Make sure your menorah is kept on a high surface and is not too close to the edge of a table.
  • If your child enjoys blowing out candles, make sure to tie hair back so it cannot catch on fire. Have an adult supervise and stay near small children.
  • Replace smaller dreidels with larger ones.
Toy Safety. Small pieces can come off and become choking hazards, and batteries and magnets can cause choking as well as internal chemical burns.
  • Inspect all toys to make sure they are in good working order.
  • If a toy uses small batteries or magnets, ensure curious toddlers cannot get access to them.
  • Select toys that fall within your child’s recommended age level. Most toys have age recommendations listed on the package. These are based on safety hazards, not how smart your child is.
A New TV? More than 100 children are brought to emergency rooms in Canada each year as a result of TV sets falling on them.
  • Ensure your TV is placed on low, sturdy furniture.
  • Use anchors or furniture straps to secure the furniture to the wall.
  • Make sure children never sit too close to a TV. They may accidentally pull the TV onto themselves.
Fireplace Safety. Gas fireplaces are popular, but the glass in front of the fireplace can get as hot as 200°C (400°F) in six minutes and can take up to 45 minutes to cool down. Young children can get severe burns to their hands face, arms, and shoulders when they touch or fall against the glass of a gas fireplace.
  • Stay close to children if they are in a room with a gas fireplace that is on or has been recently turned off,
  • Purchase specially-designed fireplace screens and guards. Ensure they are secured.
Visiting Others. The homes you visit may not be childproofed. Each year, curious toddlers choke or get poisoned by exploring and getting their hands on items not meant for children.
  • Alcoholic drinks, hard candies, and nuts should be kept well out of young children’s reach. If they are within reaching distance, find a safe playing spot away from these items.
  • Keep young children away from all plants. Plants like mistletoe berries, holly, and poinsettia are either poisonous or can cause irritation if touched or swallowed.
  • Bring safe toys and foods for your child when visiting.
  • If you are entertaining in your own home, make the indoor space a smoke-free environment. Set up an outdoor smoking area for guests who need to smoke.
  • Designate a safe space for visitors’ purses and coats. Place purses on the top shelf of a cupboard or on top of a fridge to prevent poisoning by swallowing pills, cigarettes, or other small items from visitors’ purses.
For more information and tips visit the Safe Start website at: http://www.bcchildrens.ca/KidsTeensFam/ChildSafety/SafeStart/default.htm

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