Holiday decorations add to the fun and excitement of the holiday season, here are some tips to ensure your children stay safe during the festivities.

  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is less of a fire hazard than a dry tree. Cut off about 2 inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption, place the tree in a sturdy water-holding stand and keep filled with water while the tree is indoors.
  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant".
  • Place trees away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters. Also, place the tree out of the way of traffic, and do not block doorways.
  • Use thin guy-wires to secure large trees to the walls or ceiling to prevent a young child from pulling the tree over on top of them.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
  • Make sure all holiday lights and electric cords are in good repair and out of a child's reach.
  • Turn off all lights on the trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Lights could short and cause a fire.

In homes with small children, take special care to:

  • Avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable.
  • Avoid decorating the lower branches of the tree. Keep all trimmings with small removable parts out of reach to prevent children from swallowing or inhaling small parts.
  • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
  • Keep "bubbling" lights away from children. The glass can cut them if broken and the liquid inside is a hazardous chemical if swallowed.
  • Choose decorations that are non-leaded. Leaded materials are harmful if swallowed by children.
  • Keep holiday plants out of reach. Mistletoe and holly are poisonous and can cause upset stomach. If a child eats any of the berries, call your local poison control center.

Plan to have a safe and happy holiday season. Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed, so look for and avoid potential danger spots near candles, fireplaces, trees and/or electric connections. 

This article was written by Paula Losito RN, an Answer Line nurse at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.


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