Portsmouth Regional Hospital - December 09, 2019

Keep small children safe as you celebrate

There’s nothing like a baby or toddler to make the holidays more fun. But keep in mind that ER visits often spike during the holidays, and young children are at particular risk. If you’re shopping for youngsters or hosting them in your home, take steps to keep them safe while you’re celebrating.

Household dangers

Babies and young children need to be supervised at all times. But no matter how diligent you are, it only takes a few seconds for a child to get into trouble. Try to make your home as safe as possible.

Some tips:

  • Get down to their level. Before young visitors arrive, take a tour or your house on all fours. Look for hazards such as uncovered electrical outlets, cabinets containing cleaning supplies or other hazards such as dangling cords or choking hazards within kids’ reach.
  • Decorate safely. Even if your home is already babyproofed, decorations may present new dangers. Keep small or breakable items well out of reach. If a holiday tree is part of your décor, make sure the tree is stable, and the decorations on the lower branches are safe for children. Keep lights up high, out of the reach of little hands. Heavy stocking holders can fall on children with the slightest tug on the stocking, so consider hanging stockings the old-fashioned way. Make sure wrapped gifts do not have choking hazards attached.
  • Keep medications out of reach, and ask your visitors to do the same, even in bedrooms and bathrooms.
  • Keep kids out of the kitchen. You’ll still need to keep handles on pots turned in toward the stove and to secure cabinets containing potential hazards. Keep refrigerator magnets well out of reach.
  • Keep musical cards out of reach. They contain button batteries that can cause serious injury or death if swallowed.

Gift giving safely

If you’re shopping for young children, make sure gifts don’t present a danger. Some things to consider:

  • Look for age recommendations and safety information on toys before you buy.
  • Don’t give toys containing button batteries or magnets or must be plugged in to children younger than 10.
  • Watch for small parts or easily broken toys. Parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long are a danger to children under age three.
  • Remove tags, strings and ribbons. Pull strings on toys should be no more than 12 inches long.
  • Read all labels, instructions and warnings before handing a child a toy, and teach them how to use it.

Don’t risk hazards at your holiday celebration. A little bit of research and a few minutes of preparation can prevent a holiday ER visit.