Holiday Safety Tips
By Kimberlee Mitchell
Child Safety Expert & Professional Childproofer
Making your house look festive can often create safety hazards for young children. If you have babies, toddlers or will be entertaining some little ones over the holidays, give yourself peace-of-mind by childproofing your home first. Here are a few tips for a safe and joyful holiday season:
Buttons, Candy and Baubles are Choking Hazards
Wreaths, ornaments, nativity scenes, and other decorations with unsecured pieces become choking hazards when placed within reach of little hands. Be sure to keep them, and any holiday candy dishes—especially those containing nuts, M&M's or hard candies—on high tables or counters. Clean up carefully after wrapping gifts. Babies love scrap pieces of tape, ribbon and wrapping paper. Foils and plastic wrap are extra tempting due to their shiny quality.
If You Display It, They Will Climb It
Beware of the determined climbers who will "MacGyver" a way to get to that shiny snow globe or gleaming candles. As you decorate, be sure to put the ladder away immediately as it will beckon your baby to climb it. Don't be a poor example to your little one by climbing on top of chairs or tables to reach high-placed décor and don’t underestimate the ingenuity of a curious child. She will stack an array of toys to be able to see out the window to spot Christmas carolers or daddy coming home bearing gifts. Anchor all shelving units, armoires, etc. to a wall stud as they each pose dangerous tipping hazards. Falling is the number one accident in households. Be sure to have mounted safety gates at stair tops and bottoms. Screens can easily give way and should not be considered a childproofing device. Keep windows locked or use window guards.
Babies Can Get Tangled up in the Trimmings
Strings of electric lights are as dangerous as they are attractive to young children, who can easily get wrapped up in the wires and risk strangling or even electrocuting themselves. Tinsel and wrapping ribbon are just as irresistible and nearly as dangerous. If you use these strings or lights of any kind, hang them high and keep your children away from the outlets. Sliding outlet covers are a great way to keep curious kids safe from electric shock. Never leave your holiday lights on or candles lit if you if you are not home as this can be a fire hazard.
Babies Can Topple a Christmas Tree in Seconds
Naturally your child will be fascinated by the lights, ornaments and colorful packages. If your tree isn't anchored securely to its stand, she may reach for a low-hanging bough and pull the whole thing down on top of her.
Saying, "No!" too often to a curious and excited toddler can dampen the holiday cheer for you both. Consider setting up your tree and other decorations outside the primary play area and putting up a safety gate to block your child from entering the room. If your tree must be in an accessible area, consider eliminating lights and breakable ornaments from the lower portion of the tree and barricading access to the tree with furniture or an expanded safety gate. When my Chloe was one, I bought a 3-foot Douglas Fir, decorated it with lights and a few of my favorite ornaments, and displayed it on a counter, far from her reach.
Click through to discover more tips from Kimberlee and learn about the Safety 1st Squad™!