Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Wednesday | December 12, 2012
Home : Health
Holiday safety tips for children
Carleene Grant-Davis, Contributor

Christmas is an exciting time of the year for kids. And for most adults, too! The kids are looking forward to toys, toys and more toys! While we are making their wishes come true, let us ensure that they have a safe holiday season.

Toy safety

Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.

Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he or she has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully.

To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don't give young children (under age 10) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery operated.

Young children can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Read labels properly to ensure that toys for children less than three years of age do not contain parts less than one and a quarter inches in diameter and two and a quarter inches long.

Children can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons; do not allow children under age eight to play with them.

Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.

Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.

Parents should store toys in a designated location, such as on a shelf or in a toy chest, and keep older kids' toys away from young children.

Trees

When setting up a tree at home, place it out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.

Check all tree lights - even if you've just purchased them - before hanging them on your tree. Make sure that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.

Decorations

In homes with small children, 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 trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.

Discard all wrapping paper, 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 flames.

Happy partying and visiting

Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come into contact with alcohol or tobacco.

Remember that the homes you visit may not be child-proofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots like unlocked cabinets, unattended purses, accessible cleaning or laundry products, and stairways.

Keep a list with all of the important phone numbers you or a babysitter are likely to need in case of an emergency.

Travelling, visiting family members, getting presents, shopping, etc., can all increase your child's stress levels. Trying to stick to your child's usual routines, including sleep schedules and timing of naps, can help you and your child enjoy the holidays and reduce stress.

Happy holidays!

Dr Carleene Grant-Davis is a consultant paediatrician and head, Dept of Paediatrics, Cornwall Regional Hospital; email: yourhealth@gleanerjm.com.

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