Making the Holidays Safe
December 16, 2013
Blank Children's Hospital
Family gatherings, special traditions, delicious treats - the holiday
season may be the most wonderful time of the year, especially for kids.
Unfortunately, for emergency room doctors it's also one of the busiest.
Learn how to protect your little ones from some common holiday
dangers, so you and your family can enjoy a season that's happy and
- Mistletoe, holly, poinsettias, Jerusalem cherry plants, and other
plants are commonly used as decorations during the holidays. Like many
plants, these are considered potentially poisonous and should be kept
out of the reach of kids. Symptoms of plant poisoning can include
rashes, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you suspect that your child has eaten any part of a plant, immediately call your doctor or the National Poison Center: (800) 222-1222.
- "Bubble lights" containing methylene chloride can be poisonous if a
child drinks the fluid from more than one light (even if labeled
nontoxic). Snow sprays may be harmful if the aerosol propellants are
poisoning is a common risk for children during the holiday season. Many
parents host holiday parties where alcohol is served. Parents must take
care to remove all empty and partially empty cups as
soon as possible. Because kids imitate adults, many may drink the
beverages they see adults drinking. Children become "drunk" much more
quickly than adults, so even small amounts of alcohol can be dangerous.
- Food poisoning is another potential holiday hazard. Practice food safety
by washing hands, utensils, dishes, and anything else that comes in
contact with raw meat, including poultry and fish, and raw eggs before
and after use. Don't contaminate a serving dish with raw meat. Store
leftovers properly and heat them thoroughly before serving.
Choking and Swallowing
- Tree ornaments, light bulbs, icicles, tinsel, and small toys are potential choking
hazards for small children because they may block the airway. The
general rule of thumb is that if it's small enough to fit in the mouths
of babies and toddlers, it's too small to play with.
- Common holiday foods such as peanuts or popcorn are potential choking hazards and should not be given to children under age 4.
- The needles of holiday trees can cause painful cuts in the mouth and throat of a child who swallows them.
- Angel hair (made from finely spun glass) and ornament hangers may cause cuts, skin irritation, or eye damage if touched or swallowed by children.