Top 5 Holiday Hazards and Tips to Avoid Them

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Oh Baby! Top 5 Holiday Hazards and Tips to Avoid Them

By Jacque Jackson, RN, Certified Pediatric Nurse

The holiday season is here. Time for holiday travel, decorations, gift giving and plenty of holiday treats! As a pediatric nurse, I can’t help but get my mind going about all of the dangers that surround the holidays. This year, I thought it would be helpful to share my top five holiday hazards and help parents prevent any injury or hospital visits during this joyous time of year.

Holiday Food

It’s a tradition that isn’t meant to be broken right? Baking special cookies and cakes and devouring delicious holiday treats before your kids eat them all. Here is a list of some holiday treats to be cautious of:

  • Popcorn. My daughter Olivia loves popcorn, no matter what season. Whether you are enjoying gourmet flavors or stringing it on your Christmas tree, be sure your kiddos are sitting down and you are present when they are eating it…down to every last kernel. Popcorn can be a choking hazard and can easily get lodged in the throat if you are not careful.
  • Chocolate. That sounds weird right? I always tell parents to just be mindful of the thickness and hardness of chocolate. It's important to determine whether your child is developmentally able (meaning old enough) to eat a piece.
  • Candy Canes. It wouldn’t be Christmas without them right? Candy canes can also be sharp, especially if they break off. Once again, I just ask parents to make sure kids are sitting down, not bouncing around and that parents have eyes on their child(ren) until they are finished with the candy completely.

Holiday Decorations

Festive lights, trees, and other decorations really help families get into the spirit of the holidays. I agree.  I love decorating my house and watching the excitement glow through my children’s eyes.  Here are some decorations to be mindful of when decorating:

  • Light bulbs. My 2-year-old son finds the darndest things on the floor and pops them right into his mouth. Christmas lights are no exception. I don’t blame him, after all they look just like candy. The bubble lights are extremely poisonous too, for they may contain methylene chloride which, if swallowed or absorbed through the skin, becomes carbon monoxide inside the body. Be careful of where you hang yours and where you plug them in. For those of you with little little ones, I saw someone put a baby play pen gate around their Christmas tree recently. That is a genius idea.
  • Ornaments. Glass, plastic ones, and especially those that look like candy. Again, kids love putting anything and everything in their mouths. Be weary of all the tiny parts of your ornaments on the tree.
  • Tinsel. Tinsel seems to have made a come back in recent years. Although I personally doesn’t feel it looks like “icicles.” Can you imagine what tinsel can do to a child if they try to swallow it? It’s not as easy as performing the Heimlich maneuver, for the tinsel can wrap around and lodge itself in the throat and can be serious danger. My recommendation is to skip tinsel altogether.

Holiday Toys

Last but not least, many of us may have younger children with older siblings. Sometimes older siblings receive really fun gifts, but also come with itty bitty tiny pieces. Make sure Santa reads the boxes with the list of pieces so you can keep track of toys in a safe manner. An easy tip is that if it's small enough to fit in their mouth but the age on the box older than your child, then it's a chocking hazard. Here are some common toys that are easy to swallow.

  • Car tires. It amazes me how easy car tires can come off little toy cars. And for some reason, the texture of car tires seems to be a perfect invitation inside a little ones mouth.
  • Legos. Yes, we all know this one…but in addition to Legos in the mouth, be sure to check noses and ear cavities too. If you smell something really funny, it could be a toy lodged up in the nose, and you don’t even know it.
  • Marbles. Many games come with marbles. This freaks me out because marbles can be swallowed very easily. Keep all the games out of reach for the little ones.

It’s my hope to keep families informed and safe during this holiday season. If you are traveling, have family coming to visit you, or anything else that may require a brush up on your child safety skills, please feel free to reach out to me for a free consultation. It’s my passion to share my knowledge and teach families the proper way to ensure safety for each and every child here in the Houston area.

Happy Holidays.