Holiday Safety Tips and Mental Health Tips...
Holiday Safety Tips and Mental
The holidays are an exciting time of year for
kids, and to help ensure they have a safe and happy holiday season, here are
some safety and mental health tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Please feel free to excerpt these tips or use them in their entirety for any
print or broadcast story, with acknowledgment of the source.
HOLIDAY SAFETY TIPS
purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant."
purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles
are hard to pull from branches, and needles do not break when bent between
your fingers. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when
tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators or portable
heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
Cut a few
inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for
better water absorption and will help keep your tree from drying out and
becoming a fire hazard.
Be sure to
keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out
Check all tree
lights--even if you have just purchased them--before hanging them on your
tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken
sockets or loose connections.
electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with
electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be
strands may contain lead in the bulb sockets and wire coating, sometimes in
high amounts. Make sure your lights are out of reach of young children who
might try to mouth them, and wash your hands after handling them.
lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor
use. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples,
not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit
interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
Turn off all
lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and
start a fire.
non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or
artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals.
lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable
holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked over.
In homes with
small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or
breakable. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of
children to prevent them from swallowing or inhaling small pieces. Avoid
trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat
Wear gloves to
avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair."
Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while
decorating with artificial snow sprays.
wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas
after gifts are opened. These items can pose suffocation and choking hazards
to a small child or can cause a fire if near flame.
potentially poisonous holiday plant decorations, including mistletoe berries,
Jerusalem cherry, and holly berry, away from children.
Select toys to
suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Toys
too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.
a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a
gift, read the instructions carefully.
both burns and electrical shocks, do not give young children (under age 10) a
toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are
can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations
specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1
1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
have serious stomach and intestinal problems – including death – after
swallowing button batteries or magnets. In addition to toys, button batteries
are often found in musical greeting cards, remote controls, hearing aids, and
other small electronics. Small, powerful magnets are present in many homes as
part of building toy sets. Keep button batteries and magnets away from young
children and call your health care provider immediately if your child swallows
choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons; do not allow children
under age 8 to play with them.
strings, and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
Watch for pull
toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a
strangulation hazard for babies.
store toys in a designated location, such as on a shelf or in a toy box, and
keep older kids' toys away from young children. Use a toy box with no lid or a
lightweight, non-locking lid and ventilation holes.
often present in raw foods. Fully cook meats and poultry, and thoroughly wash
raw vegetables and fruits.
Be sure to
keep hot liquids and food away from the edges of counters and tables, where
they can be easily knocked over by a young child's exploring hands. Be sure
that young children cannot access microwave ovens.
hands frequently, and make sure your children do the same.
Never put a
spoon used to taste food back into food without washing it.
raw foods and cooked foods separate, and use separate utensils when preparing
meat in the refrigerator, never on the countertop.
require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than
immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on
leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
the homes you visit may not be childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots
like unlocked cabinets, unattended purses, accessible cleaning or laundry
products, stairways, or hot radiators.
Keep a list
with all of the important phone numbers you or a baby sitter are likely to
need in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department, your
pediatrician and the national Poison Help Line, 1-800-222-1222. Laminating the
list will prevent it from being torn or damaged by accidental spills.
sure your child rides in an appropriate car safety seat, booster seat, or seat
belt. In cold weather, children in car safety seats should wear thin layers
with a blanket over the top of the harness straps if needed, not a thick coat
or snowsuit. See
for more information.
buckle up too, and drivers should never be under the influence of alcohol or
visiting family members, getting presents, shopping, etc., can all increase
your child's stress levels. Trying to stick to your child's usual routines,
including sleep schedules and timing of naps, can help you and your child
enjoy the holidays and reduce stress.
lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations
from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
Use care with
"fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They
contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and
vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.
Do not burn
gift wrap paper in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite
suddenly and burn intensely.
glass-fronted gas fireplace is used, keep children and others well away from
it with a screen or gate. The glass doors can get hot enough to cause serious
burns and stay hot long after the fire is out.
HOLIDAY MENTAL HEALTH TIPS
Take care of
yourself both mentally and physically. Children and adolescents are affected
by the emotional well-being of their parent or caregivers. Coping with stress
successfully can help children learn how to handle stress better, too.
Make a plan to
focus on one thing at a time. Try a few ideas from "mindfulness" as a strategy
to balance the hustle and bustle of things like shopping, cooking, and family
get-togethers during the holidays: Stop and pay attention to what is happening
at the moment, focus your attention on one thing about it ,and notice how you
are feeling at the time. Withhold immediate judgment, and instead be curious
about the experience.
Give to others
by making it an annual holiday tradition to share your time and talents with
people who have less than you do. For example, if your child is old enough,
encourage him or her to join you in volunteering to serve a holiday meal at
your local food bank or shelter or sing at a local nursing home. Help your
child write a letter to members of the armed forces stationed abroad who can't
be home with their own family during the holidays.
many children and adults experience a sense of loss, sadness or isolation
during the holidays. It is important to be sensitive to these feelings and
ask for help for you, your children, family members or friends if needed.
Try to keep
household routines the same. Stick to your child's usual sleep and mealtime
schedules when you can, which may reduce stress and help your family enjoy the
need to brush their teeth twice a day!
pressured to "over-spend on gifts." Consider making one or two gifts. Help
your child make a gift for his or her other parent, grandparents, or other
important adults and friends. Chances are, those gifts will be the most
treasured ones and will teach your child many important lessons.
of all, enjoy the holidays for what they are -- time to enjoy with your
family. So, be a family, do things together like sledding or playing board
games, and spend time visiting with relatives, neighbors and friends.