What grandparents need to know about holiday safety hazards
Are you planning to spend time this holiday season with your grandbaby? If so, I’m jealous—it’s the other grandparents’ turn this year. On the other hand, this means that we won’t have any visitors that we need to keep away from the sparkling tree, and we can leave candles on the coffee table!
When there are small children in the house during holiday gatherings, there are a lot of hazards that we need to minimize. Whether you are hosting or visiting, there are some holiday safety tips that will help to protect your grandchildren from those hazards. Make sure you read them all and follow these safety precautions during the holidays.
Fire: Flames are enticing to small children and burns happen fast. Keep candles and matches out of reach, and gate off the fireplace or watch that baby like a hawk at all times. Never leave a child alone in a room with an open flame.
Plants: While it’s a myth that poinsettias are poisonous, other holiday plants, like mistletoe, holly, and Jerusalem cherry are a danger to exploring babies and toddlers. Keep them out of reach.
Choking hazards: The holiday home is usually filled with choking hazards. Anything that can fit through a toilet paper tube can cause a child to choke. Be vigilant about small toys, gift wrapping, decorations, button batteries, nuts, popcorn, hard candies, etc.
Button batteries and hearing aid batteries: These are more than just a choking hazard. If swallowed, these round, flat batteries can be fatal. Button batteries are found in everything from children’s toys to your car key fob. Make sure they are not accessible.
Alcohol: Large family gatherings often result in glasses of sweet tasting alcohol being left where a child can sample them. Remind adults to keep track of their drinks, and quickly clean up leftovers.
Christmas tree: Grandchildren are understandably attracted to the Christmas tree. While you may not need to fence off the tree entirely, you do need to keep small and breakable baubles out of a child’s reach. Make sure you use a sturdy stand that can’t be tipped over. If you have a real tree, keep it well watered to minimize fire risk. Unplug tree lights at night and when you leave the house.
Safety gear: If you are giving your grandchild a new bike, skates or scooter, make sure you provide safety gear. The only thing worse than getting hurt on your new bike is being told you can’t ride it until you get a helmet.
Toys: Make sure toys are age appropriate: those suggested ages are often for safety reasons. Check for loose parts and choking hazards, and make sure any button battery compartments can only be opened with a screwdriver.
Kitchen: A busy kitchen is never safe for small children, but during the holidays, cooks can be extra distracted. Make sure pot handles are turned away from the front of the stove and sharp knives aren’t left at the edge of the counter. Better yet, declare the cooking zone off-limits to kids and find a way to engage them in another room.
Visitors bags: Purses, suitcases, and shopping bags are full of delights for an exploring toddler. They are also full of hazards, from medications to coins. Make sure any visitors’ bags are kept out of reach, and keep your medications where there is no chance a child can get to them. Up to 20 percent of pediatric poisonings involve a grandparent’s medication!
Viruses: This year, in addition to seasonal flu and Covid-19, cases of RSV are extremely high. Babies and toddlers are especially vulnerable to this serious illness. Take extra precautions to make sure everyone in the family is doing all they can to minimize the chance of exposure, and be understanding if parents decide gatherings aren’t in the best interest of their children this year.
Holiday gatherings are chaotic enough without worrying about a child being injured. Follow these holiday safety reminders to make sure your holidays memories are happy ones.
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