It’s a joyful time of year, but year many children are treated in hospitals for injuries related to the holidays. Susan Helms, director of injury prevention and Safe Kids Mid-South at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, breaks it down by the risks and how to keep kids safe around Christmas decorations.
The holiday risks:
- In 2012, 3,270 children 19 and under were seen in emergency rooms for injuries caused by nonelectric holiday decorations, like broken ornaments.
- In 2011, an estimated 193,200 children were treated in an emergency room for a toy-related injury.
- And in the same year, an estimated 136,314 children ages 19 and under were injured due to a fire or burn.
If you decorate a tree:
- Decorate with children in mind. Do not put ornaments that have small parts or metal hooks, or look like food or candy, on the lower branches where small children can reach them. Trim protruding branches at or below a child’s eye level, and keep lights out of reach.
- Natural Christmas trees always involve some risk of fire. To minimize the risk, get a fresh tree and keep it watered at all times. Do not put the tree within three feet of a fireplace, space heater, radiator or heat vent.
- Never leave a lit Christmas tree or other decorative lighting display unattended. Inspect lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections and broken sockets.
- Do not overload extension cords or outlets and do not run an electrical cord under a rug.Do not burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood or wrapping paper in a home fireplace.
- Make sure all exits are accessible and not blocked by decorations or trees.
To prevent poisoning this holiday season:
- Keep alcohol, including baking extracts, out of reach and do not leave alcoholic drinks unattended.
- Color additives used in fireplace fires are a toxic product and should be stored out of reach. Artificial snow can be harmful if inhaled, so use it in a well-vented space.
- Mistletoe berries, Holly Berry and Jerusalem Cherry can be poisonous. If they are used in decorating, make sure children and pets cannot reach it.In a poison emergency, call the national Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.
Have a happy and safe holiday!