to Make Each Holiday Happy and Safe
By Carol Ball
anticipate few things as eagerly as the holiday season. Colorful
decorations and mounds of gifts create a magical, festive atmosphere.
However, these same items can cause unintentional injuries if not
used properly. According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, more
than 165,000 children under the age of 14 were treated in hospital
emergency rooms in 2002 for toy-related injuries, such as a burn
or laceration. That same year, at least 13 children under age 14
died from toy-related injuries.
Parents are urged to be involved in playtime, especially with younger
children. According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, nearly half
of toy-related injuries and 90 percent of deaths are suffered by
children ages four and under. In addition, children ages three and
under are more likely to put small objects in their mouths, increasing
the risk of choking.
injuries can be avoided by following a few standard guidelines.
Carol Ball, of Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta and SAFE KIDS
of Georgia offers these tips to parents who want to safeguard children
from preventable holiday injuries:
Only allow your child to use age-appropriate toys. When choosing
a toy, think about the childs age and skill level.
Regularly inspect toys for damage, including exposed sharp edges
or loose pieces. Either repair the toy immediately or discard it.
Monitor toy recalls regularly. A good resource is www.safekids.org
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 poise a serious
choking risk to your child.
purchasing toys with straps, strings or cords that are longer than
seven inches and can accidentally strangle children.
not allow children under age eight to use electrical toys or toys
with a heating element.
Riding toys (motorized and unpowered) are involved in more accidents
than any other type of toy. In 2002 alone, more than 71,000 children
were injured using them. If giving bikes, skates, skateboards or
scooters as gifts, make sure to buy the appropriate helmet and other
Do not allow children to ride motorized vehicles, or mini-choppers
on public streets. Not only are they not visible to automobile and
truck drivers, but they are not street legal and violators can be
ticketed. Anytime that your child is riding these types of vehicles,
make sure he is outfitted with the appropriate helmet and safety
gear. Always ensure that your child is being actively supervised
by an adult. These vehicles are not meant for young, inexperienced
drivers and can cause severe injury.
should also keep in mind that seasonal decorations and holiday travels
can result in unintentional injury as well.
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. Make sure all
smoke alarms have fresh batteries and that you have developed a
home fire escape plan.
Keep poisonous, decorative plants, such as amaryllis, holly and
mistletoe, out of reach of children and pets. Keep your local Poison
Center number in a prominent place along with other emergency numbers.
Practice common sense while decorating. Only use indoor holiday
lights inside and outdoor holiday lights outside.
When traveling, everyone in the car should be using his or her safety
belt or child safety seat. Make sure child safety seats are appropriate
for the childs height and weight and are used according to
more information on holiday safety call Childrens Healthcare
of Atlanta at 404-250-kids, or visit www.choa.org.
CHILDRENS HEALTHCARE OF ATLANTA
Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta, one of the leading pediatric
healthcare systems in the country, is a not-for-profit organization
that benefits from the generous philanthropic and volunteer support
of our community and state. With 430 licensed beds in two hospitals
and more than 400,000 annual patient visits, Childrens is
recognized for excellence in cardiac, cancer and transplant services,
as well as in many other pediatric specialties. To learn more about
Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta, visit the Web site at www.choa.org
or call 404-250-kids.