The holidays are one of the most wonderful times of the year. Keep you and your family safe this season by reading the tips below on how to avoid potential holiday hazards.
Between 2013-2017, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of three deaths, 15 injuries and $10 million in direct property damage annually. When deciding on a Christmas tree this year, make sure it is fresh and watered appropriately. The tree needles should be green and the stump sticky with sap, and the tree should be placed away from any heat sources that may cause it to catch fire. You should water the tree daily and if you notice the tree beginning to dry out and die, you should remove the tree from your home. All artificial trees should be flame-resistant.
Many holiday plants can be poisonous if ingested. This includes mistletoe, holly and Jerusalem cherry plants. Symptoms of potential plant poisoning are rashes, vomiting and diarrhea. If you suspect that your child has eaten any part of the plant, please contact the Alabama Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222. Bubble lights and snow sprays can also be poisonous to children. Bubble lights contain a hazardous chemical called methylene chloride and should not be ingested.
Be sure to keep medications out of reach for your children. Store all medicines — prescription and non-prescription — out of sight and out of reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet. Even items that seem harmless, such as mouthwash, can be hazardous if ingested in large quantities by children. All packages and bottles should be child-resistant. Make sure your kids are in a safe area of the house that is properly child-proofed.
Alcohol and Food Poisoning
The risk of alcohol and food poisoning is all too common amongst children during the holidays. To lower the risk, make sure you dispose of all empty or partially empty containers immediately. All alcohol should be kept away and out of reach of children. Practice food safety by thoroughly washing hands, utensils, dishes and anything else that comes in contact with raw meat, including poultry, fish and raw eggs, before and after use. Store your leftovers properly and heat them thoroughly before serving again.
Choking and Swallowing
Tree ornaments, light bulbs, icicles, tinsel and small toys are all potential choking hazards for small children. If it is small enough to fit in a baby or toddler’s mouth, then it is too small to play with. Button batteries are common in most children’s toys and are very dangerous if swallowed. The symptoms of button battery ingestion are coughing, choking, irritability, loss of appetite and fever. If swallowed, visit your nearest emergency department or call 911. Small treats such as peanuts or popcorn, tree needles, angel hair (made from finely spun glass) and ornament hangers are all potentially harmful and should be kept away from children.
The number one thing to remember when picking gifts for your little ones this season is that you must choose a gift that is age appropriate. For young children, toys without strings, batteries and removable parts are best and reduce the risk of choking.
If your child ingests something toxic this holiday season, call the Alabama Poison Information Center at Children’s of Alabama at 1-800-222-1222. Our experts can give recommendations for how to treat ingestion as well as dermal and ocular exposures.