Most parents understand the importance of childproofing their homes. Gates on stairs, using smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and keeping medicines and poisons out of reach are fairly standard in many homes.
In addition to the risks of holiday decorations, younger children can get into trouble if they visit a home during the holidays (or anytime of year) that isn’t childproofed. It is especially likely that a home isn’t childproofed if you are visiting grandma and grandpa and they don’t usually have children in the house. In addition to not having safety locks on cabinets, gates on stairs, covers on electrical outlets, etc., they may also have prescription medications that aren’t in a child resistant container.
Questions to Ask:
- Do they have a pool? Does it have a fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate? Can the children get to the area where the pool is located?
- Are there guns in the house? Are they stored unloaded in a locked box with the bullets locked separately?
- Are there small objects, such as hard candy or nuts in candy dishes, where younger children can get them?
- Are there gates on the stairs?
- Are medications, poisons and household cleaners out of reach?
- Do they have a pet that may harm the children, such as a Rottweiler, pit bull or German shepherd?
- If your child has food allergies, will they be serving that food?
You may think that you will just watch your child more closely, even if the house isn’t childproofed, but this is hard if there are a lot of family members and friends present and the kids are all playing together. If there are going to be a lot of younger children present at a holiday gathering, you might consider volunteering to go over beforehand and childproof the house for them.
The following tips will help consumers choose appropriate toys:
- Select safe toys to suit the age, abilities, skills, and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards to younger children.
- For infants, toddlers, and all children who still mouth objects, avoid toys with small parts which could pose a fatal choking hazard.
- Look for sturdy construction, such as tightly secured eyes, noses, and other potential small parts.
- For all children under age 8, avoid toys that have sharp edges and points.
- Do not purchase electric toys with heating elements for children under age 8.
- Be a label reader. Look for labels that give age recommendations and use that information as a guide.
- Check instructions for clarity. They should be clear to you, and when appropriate, to the child.
- Immediately discard plastic wrappings on toys, which can cause suffocation, before they become deadly playthings.
- If your child is going to be getting something that he can ride, such as a bicycle, inline skates, scooter, or a skateboard, be sure that he also gets the appropriate protective equipment, including a helmet and pads.
- Discourage your kids from playing with BB and pellet guns.
- Choose a fire resistant artificial tree or a fresh live tree, which should be green, with needles that are hard to pull off.
- Keep the stand of your live tree filled with water and keep the tree away from the fireplace and radiator.
- Make sure lights are not damaged
- Avoid using more than three sets of light on a single extension cord
- Don’t overload electrical outlets
- Decorations should be flame-resistant and made of non-leaded materials.
- Avoid breakable decorations on the tree.
- Make sure the tree is secure and can’t be easily tipped over.
- Tinsel and small decorations should not be put near the bottom of the tree where they can be easily in reach of young children.
- You should also avoid edible decorations, including popcorn chains and candy canes, since younger children may think that all of the decorations are edible.
- Keep in mind that artificial snow and flocking materials are not edible, so you may want to avoid them if there are younger children in the home.
- Candles should never be left unattended, placed in an area where they can be easily knocked over or near flammable curtains or decorations.
- Be careful of heavy stocking holders that toddlers and preschoolers can pull down on top of themselves, which is becoming an increasing common hazard as use of these heavy stocking hangers become more popular.