mother and daughter decorating christmas tree

Keeping the season merry, safe and bright

While you’re wrapping gifts, trimming the tree, baking cookies, or lighting candles, don’t forget an important holiday task: ensuring your family’s safety. Lindsay Schwandner, M.D., a primary care pediatrician at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, says it’s easy to overlook safety precautions.

“During the holidays, with so many distractions, sometimes children aren’t as closely supervised,” Dr. Schwandner says. “With many adults in the house, it’s easy to think someone else is watching them.”

To ensure a safe holiday season for your family, Dr. Schwandner suggests taking these precautions:

Décor Tips

  • Use non-breakable tree ornaments tied with ribbon instead of metal hooks, which are choking hazards for small children.
  • Poinsettia, holly, and mistletoe plants can be toxic. Put plants out of the reach of toddlers. Collect fallen leaves and needles. Use netting with mistletoe and holly plants to prevent children from ingesting their fallen berries.
  • String decorative lights toward the upper reaches of your holiday tree. The bulbs can burn tiny fingers and loose lights pose a choking hazard.
  • For outdoor lighting, choose extension cords rated for outside use. Also, don’t overload outlets.

Fire Awareness

  • Never decorate a tree with candles.
  • Keep candles where only adults can reach them.
  • Extinguish candles before going to bed or leaving the room. Consider replacing candles with electric and battery-operated versions.
  • Your tree should be fresh with green needles. Avoid trees with brown needles, easily bendable branches, and sap-sticky trunks.
  • To prevent your tree from tipping over, securely fasten it inside a broad stand.
  • Water your tree every other day to keep it from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Artificial trees should be rated fire-retardant and non-allergenic by a recognized testing facility.
  • Check decorative lights for broken or missing bulbs and frayed wires.
  • Turn off tree lights before leaving your home or going to bed.
  • Dispose of your tree in a timely fashion after the holidays—as it can easily dry out and pose a fire risk.

Child Gift-Giving Tips

  • Check the safety label to determine if the gift is age-appropriate for its recipient.
  • Avoid toys with small parts for infants, toddlers, and all children who still chew objects.
  • Even if a small child is considered advanced for his or her age, he or she should not receive a gift meant for an older, more mature child.
  • When opening gifts, collect all packaging pieces to eliminate choking hazards. Avoid Common Mishaps
  • To prevent children from burning themselves on hot holiday food and liquids, place items on a countertop out of their reach.
  • Keep alcohol away from the reach of children, and promptly throw away empty bottles or cans.
  • Never burn colored gift wrap in your fireplace. Some metals found in certain ink pigments can release toxic fumes.

Lindsay Schwandner, M.D.
Lee Physician Group
4751 S. Cleveland Ave.
Fort Myers, FL 33907

Tags: Holiday Tips, Safety, Health & Wellness