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Holiday safety tips for kids

Strings of lights, ornaments, candles - these are some of our favorite parts of the holidays but sometimes they pose safety hazards to infants and young children. If you know what to watch for and do a little planning ahead, the holidays are safe and fun for all ages. Let’s review some tips for keeping your children safe during the holidays.

Baby reaching for gifts under Christmas tree

Holiday decorations

With all their sparkle and color decorations are a big temptation to any child. Keep the little ones in mind when decorating your tree and home to keep things safe as well as beautiful:
  • 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 decorations that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.
  • Place all hard, glittery or breakable ornaments out of reach on your tree.
  • Keep potentially poisonous holiday plant decorations, including mistletoe berries, Jerusalem cherry, and holly berry, away from children.
  • Remember that live trees and poinsettia plants are not poisonous but they do present a choking hazard.

Gatherings & visits

The holidays are a time of gathering with family and friends to celebrate the season. Whether you are celebrating at home or far away, don’t forget to keep an eye out for safety hazards for your young children:
  • Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
  • Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots like unlocked cabinets, unattended purses, accessible cleaning or laundry products, stairways, or hot radiators.
  • Remove all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons and bows after gifts are opened. These items can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child or can cause a fire if near flame.
Facts about home holiday fires
  • One of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
  • Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. On average, one of every 31 reported home structure Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 144 total reported home structure fires.
  • A heat source too close to the tree causes roughly one in every four of Christmas tree fires.
  • More than half (56 percent) of home candle fires occur when something that can catch on fire is too close to the candle.
  • December is the peak time of year for home candle fires.
Source: National Fire Protection Association

Holiday lights

Candles of any type, in any quantity, can pose a fire hazard. So when your family lights holiday candles, be sure to keep safety at the forefront:
  • Never leave lit candles unattended.
  • Place candles on tall, sturdy surfaces like kitchen counters and dining room tables, out of reach from pets and small children. 
  • Place the candlesticks on a nonflammable surface (a tray or sheet of aluminum foil) to catch wax drippings or a falling candle.
  • Never light a candle near curtains, plants, tablecloths or decorations.
  • Secure candles in their holders by slightly melting the wax at the bottom of each candle before placing in the holder.
  • Keep matches and stick lighters away from young children.
Using electric candles or lights? Check for frayed wires before using and be sure to keep young children away from the socket. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. Some light strands may contain lead in the bulb sockets and wire coating. Make sure your lights are out of reach of young children who might try to mouth them and wash your hands after handling them.
Check out more holiday safety & mental health tips from the American Academy of Pediatricians.

Check out our app NP PEDS MD for further information and home care advice.

Baby girl with pony tail in white