The holiday season is filled with precious moments, no matter your tradition. On the other hand, some holiday traditions, decor, and fun activities can also lead to accidents if you aren’t careful – especially around younger children. During the holiday season, in particular, it’s easy for parents to get so caught up in all the festivities and fun outdoor games, that they forget about safety.
With over 15,000 injuries related to holiday decorations in 2012 according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, taking steps to prevent unnecessary bumps, falls, cuts, strains, and trips to the ER with your child should be at the top of your to-do-list. In order to make sure you have a safe and happy holiday season with all your loved ones, here are some tips that you should keep in mind as you decorate your home.
Familiarize Your Child With the Christmas Tree: According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), each holiday season firefighters respond to about 210 fires nationally. The sources? Christmas trees. Although Christmas tree fires aren’t common, when they do happen, a home can be engulfed in flames in a matter of minutes.
That’s why it’s important to teach your child safety protocols. For example, show them why it’s important to keep trees at least at three feet away from heat sources – like heaters, fireplaces, and vents. If your family prefers real trees over artificial ones, remember to keep it hydrated; the drier the tree, the more likely it is to ignite from an unexpected heating source. The base you have the tree it should also be able to hold at least one quart of water, says Rachel Rothman. Be sure to choose a strong tree stand that won’t tip over.
Go Over Light Safety: Whether you’re a last-minute person when it comes to decorating the house for the holidays, or someone that begins brainstorming ideas in August, one thing is certain: you’re going to need Christmas lights. After all, decorative lighting has the ability to spread holiday cheer in and outside your home.
Although parents might feel compelled to add rows and rows of lights around the house, you may have to scale back – depending on where the outlets are located. So before putting up any lights in your home, check the packaging, review the manual or instructions, and never plug in more wires than the power outlet or cord can handle. In other words, you never want to plug in or connect more than three cords of lights in one outlet.
Depending on the age of your child, make sure to point out the importance of the UL symbol when connecting items together and pay close attention to its color. Green, for instance, means it has been approved for indoor use, and red means it’s been approved for outdoor use. If you’re using older lights, check the wires to make sure there are no signs of cracks. Even if you go above and beyond to make sure your lights are safe, you should still unplug the lights when you leave the house.
Avoiding Slippery Spots: With all the excitement going on around the Christmas holiday, the last thing kids are thinking about is slipping and falling outside. However, it’s still important to prep the outdoor surroundings of your home. Keep the driveway and walkway clear of ice and snow – if you live in colder climates – especially if there are kids around wanting to play with their new toys.
You should also be extra careful when going out to shovel certain areas around your home. That’s because roughly 16,500 Americans injure themselves every year from shoveling accidents involving the removal of ice and snow from either the driveway or the sidewalk. If your child does decide to go outside and play after a recent snowfall, make sure they’re wearing proper boots that have enough traction to keep them balanced.
Dispose of Broken Ornaments: Are you known in the family for dropping glass ornaments? If you are, then make sure you pick up the big pieces so the little ones don’t step on them by accident. After you pick the larger pieces, wrap them up in a paper towel or piece of paper before tossing it in the garbage. To make sure there are not small pieces of broken fragments left around, be sure to sweep or vacuum the area.
It’s important that you pay extra attention to the floors during this time of year – even if you haven’t broken anything. As most parents know, kids learn by touching, and anything that’s shiny and within reach, will more than likely get pulled down. One strategy parents can try to be extra safe is color coding boxes and totes. For example, if you have a smaller child who’s constantly breaking ornaments around the house, setting a box aside to put all the broken pieces in is just 1 of 5 ways you can properly store and dispose of your Christmas decoration. It also prevents you from making a bigger mess by putting shattered pieces of glass in a trash bag that could get ripped open from the broken fragments.
Other Holiday Safety Tips for Parents to Remember:
- Hard candy and nuts: Although it’s a common practice to leave these out on the table for visitors to snack on, it’s also easy for kids to choke on. Allergies are also a concern most parents overlook when it comes to children. So if you have any holiday candy around the house, just make sure it’s out of the kids reach.
- Toys: When you’re out present shopping for kids, make sure the toys you purchase are age appropriate. If you aren’t sure whether or not the item is age appropriate, check the label.
- Pets: If you have family visiting that loves to travel with their pets – such as a dog – be sure to never leave your child and the animal alone. Dogs that aren’t used to being around children might become scared and start to behave aggressively. So, keep an eye on your child and the animal at all times and don’t let your child get close to the dog’s food source.
In the long run, injuries can occur anywhere, especially around the holidays. However, following steps to ensure your family’s safety can help minimize the chances of your little ones getting injured. So be sure to educate them about the dangers around them during the holiday season.