The holidays are a time to celebrate the season with family and friends, enjoy family traditions, and indulge in special treats. They’re also a time fraught with the potential for mishaps. Beyond COVID concerns, families need to be aware of risky situations for which to be on alert and have holiday safety tips for 2020 at the ready.
The beauty of holiday plants and garlands often leads to forgetting — certain holiday plants can be toxic humans and pets. Making the toxic list: Holly, Mistletoe, Amaryllis, Jerusalem Cherry, and the Poinsettia.
Both live and artificial Christmas trees require safety checks. Live trees should be inspected for freshness. A dry tree is a fire hazard and will drop needles that can find their way into a little one’s mouth. Be prepared to water the tree regularly to ensure its freshness.
Opting for an artificial tree instead? Those that are safest are labeled “fire-resistant.”
Whether live or artificial, households with crawlers and curious toddlers may want to consider putting a barrier around the tree. Just as enticing as the tree are the shiny sparkly decorations…
Children are fascinated with ornaments. Parents need to be aware that anything that looks like food may tempt their child to take a taste. Anything that is breakable or has sharp components should either be placed up high or perhaps put away until the children in the house are older. Discard old school metal ornament hangers in lieu of ribbons.
Don’t forget to check string lights need for frayed wires or broken sockets. Be on the lookout, too, for extra fuses or bulbs; tiny items that can easily be missed amongst packages and other decorations, but present choking hazards.
The festive season usually means parties where alcohol is served. It’s worth the effort to clean up right after a party and dispose of any cups that may contain alcoholic beverages children can encounter the next morning. Also, clear away toothpicks and sharp serving implements. Certain dishes may contain choking hazards, too. Among them, nut bowls and candy dishes.
“New toys lead to increased toy-related injury,” Paul Weinberg, M.D. from Vail, AZ, tells Parentology. As an E.R. physician, he’s seen them all. “Think new bike, skates, skateboard, pony, knife, toy oven, etc.”
During the holidays, Weinberg advises parents who may not be able to focus as much on usual of their tykes’ activities: delegate. Whether that means having someone else take over caregiving while you’re cooking or vice versa, assign specific tasks — including kid patrol — to available adults.
Holidays On the Road
Wen talking holiday safety tips in 2020, not traveling is tops. But, if you have to, keep these things in mind.
Travel with outlet plug covers and safety gates (or borrow them) to avoid unknown risks.
Medications in a host’s home, or those packed by someone visiting your home, are also dangerous. Poisoning from the accidental ingestion of pharmaceuticals risks go up when there are medications in a house that aren’t usually there. Parents should discuss the presence of meds with any house guests or their hosts. Like at home, medications should be kept far away from where children are likely to be. In many states have marijuana is legal, so edibles that look like candy may be present. These should be treated with the same care as prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Everything from flus to colds are swirling about in travel environments (think packed airplanes). Darrell Spurlock, Jr., PhD, R.N., NEA-BC, ANEF, director of Widener University’s Leadership Center for Nursing Education Research and a former registered nurse in the emergency department shares, “There are two interesting things that happen around holidays: lots of people are in close contact and many viral illnesses, like flu and gastrointestinal (GI) viruses, which are most active in the colder months.”
Weinberg, who has worked in urban, suburban, and rural areas, says he sees a “Mild increase in emergency department visits over the Christmas vacation holiday period until return to school in early January.” What parents should take into consideration when on the road, “Holiday hazards include traveling to new places with populations of new viruses and other communicable diseases that take the children out of their usual zone of immunological protections and leads to an increased incidence of infections. Travel can also lead to more foodborne illness.”
It is worth remembering: hand washing is the number one weapon against this holiday risk. And, have an emergency plan in place in the case of any allergic reactions.
So with all these potential mishaps, should families just stay at home? Weinberg believes, “Overall, it’s worth it to travel so the holiday can be fully enjoyed.”