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Published on December 17, 2019

child playing on floor by christmas tree

Holiday Safety for Young Children

It’s that most wonderful time of the year! During this season parents need to be aware that traveling, decorating and changes to routines can present safety issues for young children.

Most families are aware of safety concerns when they put up the tree and decorate their own home. Whenever children are in a different environment, they need to be supervised more carefully. If your family will be traveling, you may want to keep a few things in mind.

Take the Poison Control number with you. No matter where you are, this number will connect you with the nearest Poison Control Center. The number of calls to the Poison Control Center can be almost three times higher during the holidays.

If you will be staying with relatives who do not have young children keep these things in mind:

  • Medications may be left on the table or counter at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  Do a quick check and make sure all medications are out of children’s reach. Don’t rely on “child proof” containers.
  • Cleaning products and other poisons may need to be moved.
  • Be sure adults do not leave purses where kids can get at them; they often contain pain relievers or other medications.
  • Look for decorations that might pose a hazard: bubble lights, lamps with lamp oil, seasonal air fresheners.
  • Check out the holiday plants. Mistletoe, especially the berries, Jerusalem cherry, and holly can be toxic. For a complete list of poisonous plants, contact your county extension office.
  • Alcohol poisoning is a concern during the holidays. Children have been known to drink the leftover alcohol in glasses left out after a party. Be sure to do a quick clean up.
  • Check to be sure the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working in your relatives’ home
  • If Grandma and Grandpa have an old, drop-side crib do not use it! Drop-side cribs are now illegal. They cannot be sold, donated or given away. Cribs that are not drop side, but were manufactured before June of 2011 should be certified as safe. The best idea might be to buy an inexpensive pack and play. If you buy it used, be sure it has not been recalled. 

If you will be staying in a hotel:

  • Do a quick safety check of the hotel room.
  • Bring along some outlet covers and a night light.
  • Be sure the hotel door is secure, so a child wandering in the night cannot open it.
  • Ask the hotel if their cribs are certified as safe or consider bringing a pack and play.
  • Check the hotel windows to be sure a child can’t open them.
  • Most hotel pools do not have lifeguards. Have each adult from your family take a shift as the primary “water watcher.” That person should not be involved in any other activity except watching the children during their “shift.”
  • Be sure a “water watcher” is on duty anytime children are in the water. Don’t assume everyone is watching—this is how many drownings occur.

We wish you “Avera” safe and happy holiday season!

By Patricia Bates, Family Life Educator, Women’s and Children’s Community Outreach Education, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center

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