How to keep kids safe during the holidays

Christmas trees, decorations, and toys could pose threats
Posted at 9:57 PM, Dec 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 23:57:48-05

Holidays are filled with decorations, gatherings and fun activities, but with the joys of the season come new ways children can become injured or ill.

“We definitely see an increase with more children coming in during the holidays,” said Dr. Kathryn Reese, pediatrician at St. Lukes.

This is due to more cases of contagious illnesses in addition to injuries and accidents, according to Dr. Reese.

According To Safe Kids Worldwide 3,270 children 19 and under went to emergency rooms in 2012 due to injuries caused by nonelectric holiday decorations, such as broken ornaments. It is important to be mindful when decorating. If you are putting ornaments on a tree, make sure small children can’t reach them.

“We all love to decorate our house but when you’ve got small children you need to be cautious. Does this look appealing… are they going to want to eat it, are they going to want to play with it... So it’s being aware of how your children see your decorations and choosing accordingly,” said Reese.

In 2012, an estimated 192,000 children were treated in an emergency room for a toy-related injury, Safe Kids Worldwide reported.

To avoid choking, toys should be age appropriate. This information can be found on the toy’s box or by calling the manufacturer. Fires caused by decorations also pose a threat. These can be caused by trees, lights and candles.

"We encourage you to check your tree is watered daily, make sure your tree is not drying out, don’t decorate with any actual lit candles… Make sure we are checking how many strands of light we can use on our tree,” said Katie Barnhill, program coordinator for Children’s Injury Prevention at St. Lukes.

When it comes to visiting family and friends, know their homes may not be childproofed.

“If you’re going to be any length of time at somebody’s house, absolutely talk to them before hand and say, ‘look can we at least childproof one room while we are there just to make our whole visit more relaxing,’” said Dr. Reese.

If you are gathering with a group of people who may not be vaccinated, consider wearing a mask, spending time outdoors and avoiding large crowds. If engaging in outdoor sports or activities, remember to have your child wear a helmet and protective gear.

During the holidays, also remember to consider children’s mental health.

“The whole holidays can be very overwhelming for small children and even teenagers, so schedule in some quiet time, some sit at home and watch old movies time, some just, play outside in the snow time,” said Dr. Reese.

Emergency rooms are crowded this time of year, with long wait times, so if your child does need to see a doctor, consider calling ahead to see if a pediatrician has an opening.

For more information reach out to St. Luke’s Children’s Injury Prevention at 208-814-7640.