How to keep kids safe around Christmas and Hanukkah decorations
It's the most, wonderful time of the year! It's also a dangerous time of the year. Sometimes kids and holiday decorations don't mix.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips for families:
- When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. The needles should be hard to pull off, and should not break when you bend them. When you tap the tree on the ground, only a few needles should fall off. Cut a few inches off the bottom of the trunk before putting it in the stand, and be sure to keep the stand filled with water.
- If you have an artificial tree, make sure it's labeled "Fire Resistant."
- When setting 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.
- Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree.
- Check all lights before hanging them on a tree or in your home, even if you have just purchased them. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
- Be cautious about trimmings that may contain lead. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded materials. Light 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 put lights in their mouths, and wash your hands after handling them.
- Before using 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. Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
- When lighting candles, remove flammable materials from the area, and place the candles where they will not be knocked over. Never leave a burning candle unattended. Do not use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. For more fire safety tips, listen to "Holiday Fire Safety" on HealthyChildren.org.
- 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 them.
- 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.
- Remove all 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.
- Keep potentially poisonous holiday plant decorations, including mistletoe berries, Jerusalem cherry, and holly berry, away from children.
We would add a safety note about Hanukkah:
- Supervise all candle lighting with the children. For young children, light the candles for them or explore an electric menorah that they can light with the push of a button.
- For early elementary-age children, place your hand over their hand and light the candles together. That way, your hand will get the wax, not theirs. Use a long electric lighter rather than a match.
- Watch the candles until they burn out. Make sure you light them in a place where they are not going to be knocked over, or light them on a tray and then move the tray to a safe spot. We love the kitchen sink or the stove.
- Choose large oversized dreidels for your youngest dreidel players.
- Take the foil off of the gelt for young children and dispose of it so they don't swallow the foil.