As the holiday season begins, the safety attorneys at Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel offer a few reminders for staying safe this holiday season. Paying attention to minor details ensures that everyone enjoys a festive holiday season, free from accidents and injuries.
Keeping Kids Safe During the Holidays
Children are often the focus of holiday celebrations. Keep the focus on fun by preventing choking, poisoning, and other dangers for babies and toddlers.
A Christmas tree’s sparkle delights people of all ages. However, the tinsel, tree ornaments, and brightly colored lights can be dangerous for little ones. Toddlers fascinated by a glittering tree can pull down ornaments and even the tree. Broken ornaments can cut eyes and skin, and a falling tree can cause severe damage to a tiny tot.
Always supervise little ones around the tree and holiday décor. When decorating, place glass ornaments out of reach of little hands or consider replacing them with child-friendly ornaments.
If using cut greens for decorations, be aware that most holiday berries are poisonous if enough are eaten. Common holiday greenery includes holly, mistletoe, and Jerusalem cherries. While none of these are likely to cause significant illness or death, children could choke on the berries or experience nausea or vomiting from eating the attractive-looking fruit.
Many decorations are small enough to choke a child. If an object can fit through a paper towel tube, it’s small enough to fit in a baby’s mouth. If possible, keep small objects out of reach of young children. Don’t underestimate a curious child’s ability to pull apart light strings or decorations, creating many small pieces.
Other choking hazards for little ones are yummy snacks typically associated with the holidays such as nuts, brightly colored candies and even popcorn strung on the tree. These foods are tempting and dangerous to children under four, potentially choking them or even ending up in a nostril. Avoid a trip to the emergency room and keep food safely out of reach of little ones.
Toys With Parts and Pieces
While most parents follow the age guidelines on children’s toys, younger siblings are often interested in toys meant for older siblings. And well-meaning grandparents or friends might buy a non-age-appropriate toy because it looks cute. Finally, tiny magnets may not be safe even for school-age children. Children can easily swallow them accidentally, with life-threatening results.
Always check labels before letting children play with new presents. Make sure that attached small parts like button eyes or beads are fastened securely. Supervise youngsters when opening or playing with gifts containing small parts or batteries. Some batteries included with toys aren’t easily visible, and some toy parts can look like candy to a toddler. Look through wrapping materials before reusing or discarding. Keep toys with small pieces out of reach of younger children.
Keeping Spot Safe During the Holidays
With all the focus on children, don’t forget about four-legged family members. Many plants and greenery popular in holiday decorations are poisonous or even toxic to dogs and cats.
While many people think of poinsettias as poisonous holiday plants, they aren’t the most toxic plant for decorating and gift-giving, just the most popular. The brightly colored poinsettia leaves contain a sap that irritates the lining of pets’ mouths and esophagus. If ingested, the leaves often cause nausea and vomiting, but typically don’t necessitate a trip to the vet.
More dangerous are holly and mistletoe berries, which have a higher level of toxicity that causes severe intestinal issues. In large doses, these berries can be fatal. Other highly toxic decorative foliage includes flowering plants such as the amaryllis. Eating these can cause severe gastrointestinal distress in both cats and dogs. The bulb is more toxic than the flowers or stalk.
Even Christmas trees can be dangerous for animals. The oils can irritate pets and ingesting needles can lead to obstruction or perforation in the digestive tract. Play it safe and place all plants out of reach of pets or consider artificial greenery. If an animal does manage to ingest any of these holiday plants, call a veterinarian for help.
Decorating Safely This Holiday Season
Everyone loves the festive decorations that abound during the holiday season. Taking time to minimize risks will make everything brighter inside and outside your home.
Ladders are a standard tool used in holiday decorating and are the leading cause of holiday injuries. More than 5,000 people visit emergency rooms each December because they fell while decorating. Before climbing up, understand the three-point ladder rule: always maintain three points of connection with a ladder (two feet and one hand or one foot and two hands). Face the ladder when climbing up or down. When going on the roof, extend the ladder three feet above the roof access.
Electrical cords are also a common holiday danger, causing trips and falls and fires. Use the correct extension cord(s) for outdoor lighting, paying attention to the maximum rating of the cord. Do not exceed the amperage. Keep any connections above ground, water, or snow. Keep wires out of high traffic areas, taping them across walkways if needed. Trees, both artificial and real, should be secured safely in a stand.
Holiday decorations cause hundreds of house fires each December and January. Candles are responsible for more than half those fires. Cooking and electrical issues related to Christmas trees are the next most common causes.
To minimize the risk of a holiday house fire, keep candles away from flammable objects such as trees, décor, greenery, and wrapped gifts. Also, keep them out of reach of children and never leave them unattended. Consider using LED flameless candles in place of real ones. Check cords and electrical decorations for loose or damaged wires. Keep live trees watered. If a house fire starts, a dry tree is one of the first things to ignite.
Staying safe this holiday season is at the top of the Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel holiday wish list this year. Hopefully, these tips will make this wish come true for all the families in and around Redding, California.