If you’re celebrating this holiday season with babies, toddlers, or small children, you’ll want to take extra precautions to keep them safe.
You already know to keep household cleaners and medications locked out of reach and to cover outlets, but there are some hidden holiday dangers you might not know about. Here are six holiday staples that could pose a danger to your child and how to keep them safe.
Holiday Plants While plants certainly add a festive touch to your celebration, you should be careful about where they’re displayed if kids or pets coming over. Mistletoe and holly are both poisonous for kids and pets. The berries on mistletoe are particularly attractive to children, although the entire plant can cause problems. Eating one or two holly berries probably isn’t a big deal, but eating closer to 20 berries can cause death. The leaves, bark, and seeds of holly are also toxic. You should seek medical help if a child or dog has consumed any amount of mistletoe or holly. Poinsettias often get a bad rap this time of year, but they’re actually not the most dangerous holiday foliage to have in your home. Granted, eating poinsettia leaves could make kids or pets ill, including the potential for vomiting, so best to keep these red beauties out of reach.
The Tree Setting up a Christmas tree is a treasured tradition for many families. Live trees themselves don’t necessarily pose any toxicity dangers as the plants mentioned above, but the décor could be a safety concern for young children. Try to decorate with kids in mind. Choose soft, unbreakable ornaments that don’t require metal hooks for the lower portion of the tree. This eliminates concern over breaking ornaments or swallowing hooks. Check the lights before you string them up to make sure you don’t have any frayed wires or broken sockets. You’ll also want to water your tree regularly to avoid dry needles that could cause a fire hazard for the entire family.
Button Batteries These tiny, round disc batteries can be found in toys, remote controls, and other gadgets you might be giving as gifts this year. They also power musical holiday cards, which can easily be torn into by a little one. The danger they pose comes from the risk of children swallowing them. They can get lodged in a child’s esophagus. Saliva can trigger an electric current, which can lead to chemical reaction and severe burning of the esophagus. Make sure any toys you buy are age-appropriate and that any batteries are in a secure child-proof compartment. Keep musical holiday cards away from small children or supervise them as they enjoy the tune. If your child swallows one of these batteries (or any battery) call 911 and seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
Alcoholic Drinks If kids are invited to holiday parties where adult refreshments will be served, make sure to keep an extra close eye on them. Kids are just naturally curious and want to try everything. Adults who don’t have kids or who haven’t had to deal with toddlers for many years, might be lax in setting their drink down unsupervised. Children’s bodies absorb alcohol more quickly than adults and even a small amount of alcohol can cause poisoning, resulting in serious illness and sometimes death. If a child has ingested alcohol and is displaying symptoms such as difficulty breathing, choking, vomiting, confusion, seizures, slurred speech, or other physical indicators, seek emergency medical attention. Call 911 and/or the National Poison Control hotline at 800-222-1222.
Latex Balloons Fun and festive, yes, but latex balloons are also a potential choking hazard for kids. If ingested, they can conform to a child’s throat and completely block their ability to breathe. Kids can accidentally ingest these balloons when they’re trying to blow them up or chewing on a fully blown-up or deflated balloon. Don’t allow small children to blow up balloons or chew on them. Supervise play with balloons at all times and throw deflated balloons away.
Grandma’s Purse Okay, any relatives’ purse, bag, or suitcase sitting out on the floor could be hazardous. It’s not so much the container itself, but what might be inside it. Guests could have things like medications or sharp objects, and any number of small items that could cause choking such as coins, hard candy, or gum. It doesn’t take long for most toddlers to figure out a zipper or latch, so make sure to put bags of any kind in a secured closet or room where you’re sure little hands won’t be able to investigate the contents.
Photo credit: Farrukh.
Our mission is to help everyone in Michigan get healthier from the inside out. This means everything from giving you resources to help you make better decisions about diet and exercise, as well as information on creating and sustaining nurturing communities and successful businesses — everything you need to help create a healthier Michigan.