December brings bright lights and festivities to be shared by all, but before your household is caught up in the hustle and bustle, plan ahead to protect little ones from common holiday dangers.
Santa’s elves suggest switching to low-energy LED lights to minimize risk of fires and avoid decorating the lower branches of the tree. Keep bright, shiny and small decorations that attract young children’s attention out of reach on upper branches. Remember to switch off holiday lights before going to bed or leaving the house, as an elf may forget while finding a new hiding spot.
Place menorahs and other candles on high, non-flammable surfaces and away from the edge of a table. Avoid placing candles on tablecloths or anything else that a child could pull down or knock over.
Protect children from burns by placing safety gates around your fireplace. Remember that the glass of a gas fireplace heats up to 400o F and takes about 45 minutes to cool down to a safe temperature. Toddlers and children can accidentally stumble towards fireplaces or reach out to touch the flame out of curiosity, resulting in immediate burns from the hot glass or flame.
Even elves need a breather around the holidays, and a great way to do this is by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness can be practiced in many different ways, and can be done at almost any time. Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre, part of BC Children’s, has several resources available including audio and video recordings to guide you and your family members in things like meditation, breathing and body scan exercises.
Although they look pretty, mistletoe and holly plants are poisonous and should be kept away from children (and elves).
Carefully inspect holiday light strings, and discard any with frayed, cracked or broken extension cords, lights or bulbs. Keep all lights and electrical cords out of reach and coil any extra length. Remember to use indoor lights inside and outdoor lights outside – outdoor lights can heat up and pose a fire risk.
Skipping meals may increase your chance of overindulging at parties. If you’re at a holiday party, choose fresh fruit as a colourful and tasty alternative to candy for dessert. Handle foods safely and remember to refrigerate perishable foods within two hours of serving. Keep an elves eye on children while visiting friends and family, especially if they have food allergies.
When visiting others’ homes, be mindful that the local elves may not have child-proofed the area. Be aware of potential dangers including choking hazards and ingestions. Young children will often reach into others’ purses during gatherings and may find medications and other poisons. Keep adult items such as bags and drinks out of reach of children.
When purchasing gifts, pay attention to age recommendations and labelling on toys. Many toys have small parts that children may swallow or choke on. Promptly dispose of broken toys, popped balloons and plastic wrap, and keep toys for older children away from their younger siblings.
Even Santa’s sleigh has seat belts. Use appropriate car seats, booster seats and seat belts when travelling this holiday season. Remember when cycling to use bike lights and reflectors. Be mindful of children in parking lots, busy streets and crowded sidewalks. Follow all traffic signals, hold hands when walking and wear clothing that helps others see you and your children.
BC Children’s wishes you a happy and safe holiday season!