The holiday season can be an awe-inspiring time for children, but it’s also a time of year when the risk for injuries increases. Your providers at Eugene Pediatric Associates advise parents to be extra vigilant this time of year to help ensure an injury-free holiday season.

“As you put out decorations, remember that these are very desirable objects to small children and crawling babies, and they are going to want to get into them,” says pediatrician Dr. Pilar Bradshaw.

Trimming the tree
Young children are naturally curious, and the draw of a decorated Christmas tree might be too much for them to resist.

“Christmas trees are incredibly exciting for kids and for pets,” Dr. Bradshaw says. “And kids are going to want to pull on whatever is down low, so make sure that anything that is breakable or electrical is well out of reach.”

Hang off-limit ornaments near the top of the tree, and use only soft, unbreakable ornaments near the base. In addition:

  • Use only plain water in tree stands. Homemade or commercial tree preservatives (especially if they’re made with bleach and vinegar or alcohol) can harm your children or pets if they drink them.
  • Make sure trees and decorations are properly secured, either by a sturdy stand or to the wall.
  • Clean up fallen needles quickly. If swallowed, needles can cause painful cuts in the mouth and throat.

Along with sparkly and colorful ornaments, fun holiday decorations attract the attention of little ones, and they may want to put them in their mouth. If an object can fit through a toilet paper tube, it can obstruct the airway of a small child and prevent breathing. Talk to your children about holiday decorations and explain that they are not toys.

Be sure to keep holly and mistletoe out of reach of children because they are poisonous, and poinsettia plants can cause skin irritation and stomach upset.

When giving or receiving toys this holiday season, be sure that they are age appropriate, and read the warning labels. Check to make sure the batteries cannot be easily removed. When swallowed, small button batteries can cause severe internal injuries, even death. Use tape to secure any battery compartments that may open if dropped.

Also, avoid magnets. If swallowed, magnets can attract to one another in a child’s intestine and cause serious complications.

If you have people visiting for the holidays or you’re traveling to a relative’s home, be extra vigilant.

“When you’re spending time at someone else’s home, they may not have babyproofed as well as you have,” Dr. Bradshaw says. “If you have relatives or other guests visiting you, it’s possible that they have something in their bags or purse that might be dangerous if your child finds it, such as pill bottles, cigarettes or perfume. So be sure to take an extra measure of caution when you have people in your home or you are at someone else’s house.”

Watchful eyes
Some other suggestions to keep your home safe:

  • Get down on your hands and knees and examine your surroundings from your child’s point of view. You may be surprised to see potential dangers that you didn’t notice before.
  • If you are hosting a party at your home, consider hiring a trained babysitter or designating a family member to look after the children. This will allow everyone time to enjoy the party. Remember, if you assume that everyone at the party is watching your children, you might end up with no one watching them.

Be prepared for emergencies
According to the National Capital Poison Center, accidental poisonings increase during the holidays and when families travel. Keep the number for poison control posted on the fridge or by the phone, or save it to your mobile phone contacts, where you can easily access it: 1-800-222-1222.