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Holiday Safety Tips
By Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Tips to Make Each Holiday Happy and Safe

Children anticipate few things as eagerly as the holiday season. However, holiday decorations and gifts can cause accidental injuries if not used properly. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, hospital emergency rooms treat about 10,800 people each year for injuries related to holiday lights, decorations and Christmas trees. In addition, there are 11,000 candle-related fires each year, resulting in an average of 150 deaths and 1,200 injuries annually. Christmas trees are involved in about 400 fires annually, resulting in 20 deaths, 70 injuries and an average of more than $15 million in property loss and damage. These and other injuries can be avoided by following a few standard guidelines. Carol Ball, of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Safe Kids Georgia offers these tips to parents who want to safeguard children from preventable holiday injuries:

· Only allow your child to use age-appropriate toys. If you have more than one child, make sure to label and keep toys separate to avoid a mix-up.

· Never allow infants and toddlers to use toys with small parts that could be choking hazards. Determine whether a part is too small by using a standard cardboard toilet paper tube. If the part fits entirely inside the tube, it is small enough to pose a serious choking risk to your child.

· If giving bikes, skates, skateboards or scooters as gifts, make sure to buy the appropriate helmet and other safety gear. All-terrain vehicles and motorized scooters are not appropriate for children under 16 years old.

· Keep decorations and other items with sharp edges well out of reach.

· Avoid a fire hazard by making sure that your tree is fresh, green and watered frequently. Also remember to place the tree away from heat sources, such as vents, candles or fireplaces. When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the “fire resistant” label.

· Turn off Christmas lights when you go to bed and blow out candles when you leave the room.

· Make sure all smoke alarms have batteries and that the alarm is working. Have your family develop a home fire escape plan with two ways out of each room.

· Keep poisonous, decorative plants, such as amaryllis, holly and mistletoe, out of reach of children and pets. Keep the Poison Control Center number, 800.222.1222, with other emergency numbers.

· Remove all wrapping paper from the tree and fireplace areas immediately after presents are opened.

· Practice common sense while decorating. Only use indoor holiday lights inside and outdoor holiday lights outside. Use no more than three standard-size lights per single extension cord.

Many families travel during the holiday season, often to stay with relatives whose homes are not fully childproofed. The same precautions should be taken when visiting grandparents, friends and others to ensure maximum safety. When a child is left with a babysitter, grandparent or other caregiver they should be educated about the newer developments in child and baby care. For example:

· Babies under one year of age should be placed in a crib on their backs to sleep to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and suffocation. Blankets, stuffed animals, pillows and other loose bedding should never be placed in the crib with a baby.

· Secondhand smoke doubles the risk of SIDS. Make sure that caregivers know not to allow smoking in the presence of a baby.

· Before leaving your child with a caregiver the appropriate child safety seats should be provided to the caregiver with instructions on installation and use. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, children under age 13 should always be restrained in the back seat.

· Infants should ride in rear-facing car seats until they weigh at least 20 pounds and are at least 1 year old.

· Children over one year and between 20 pounds and 40 pounds should ride in forward-facing car seats.

· Children ages four to eight over 40 pounds and under 4’ 9” should ride in booster seats restrained with lap and shoulder belts. A regular seat belt will not fully protect a child this size in a crash.

· Children and adults over 80 pounds should use a seat belt for every ride.

For more information on holiday safety call Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at 404-250-kids, or visit www.choa.org.

The information presented on this site is intended solely as a general educational aid, and is neither medical nor healthcare advice for any individual problem, nor a substitute for medical or other professional advice and services from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your unique circumstances. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional regarding any medical condition and before starting any new treatment.

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