Keeping Your Children Safe with These Great Tips
December is a month filled with celebration and fun with our family and friends, and keeping your children safe is, of course, a priority.
Our homes and neighborhoods are beautifully decorated and lit. Unfortunately, during these joyous occasions there are many injuries to children that can be avoided. Here’s what you can do to protect your children and make your home safe:
- Avoid easily breakable and sharp ornaments and decorations
- Avoid decorating with icing and tinsel in easy to reach places for babies and toddlers- pieces can break off easily and become a choking hazard
- When you are ready to remove christmas and holiday decorations, discard or recycle live trees as the needles start to fall. Dried out christmas trees are a fire danger – According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an average of 240 home fires begin with Christmas trees every year.
- Use a space heater that has been certified by a recognized testing laboratory. Consumer Reports has guidelines and ratings for space heaters.
- Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, or other furniture.
- Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from upholstered furniture, drapes, bedding, and other combustible materials. Do not place heaters where towels, clothing, or other items could fall on the appliance and possibly catch fire.
- Do not permit children to touch or move the heater, or to adjust the controls. Once turned off and unplugged, the space heater grill stays very hot for some time. Contact with this grill can cause burns. I recommend parents not to use these once their children are crawling; if your younger baby is scooting or rolling and you routinely allow them to play on the floor, now is the time to put the heater away. Babies move faster than we think they can!
- Avoid using an extension cord unless absolutely necessary. If you must use an extension cord, Use a heavy-gauge cord. Do not bury any cords under carpeting or rugs and do not coil up the cord. Heat will build up in a coiled cord, possibly melting the insulation and causing a fire.
- Turn space heaters off and unplug them when you go to sleep or leave the house. Even if it has an auto switch off feature.
- When unplugging electrical decorations, use the gripping area on the plugs. Never pull the cord to unplug a device from an electrical outlet. This can harm the cord’s wire and insulation, which can lead to an electrical fire or shock.
- Inspect electrical light strings for damage when you are putting them away. Throw out light sets if they have loose connections, broken sockets, or cracked or bare wires.
- Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags, or wrap the lights around a piece of cardboard.
- Store electrical decorations away from children and pets, and put them in a dry place where they won’t be damaged by moisture.
- Only use indoor lights indoors (and use only outdoor lights outdoors), and verify that the lights have been tested and approved by an independent safety-testing laboratory.
- Get a professional check up from an electrician before loading up outlets if you have an older home.
- According to the NFPA, 2 out of every 5 home fires start in the kitchen. Stay in the kitchen while you’re frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- Keep anything that can catch fire (oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, towels, etc.) away from your stovetop, including your apron, long sleeves, and drawstrings on sweatshirts and pants.
- Utilize the back burners of your stove as much as possible so that no spills will fall directly on you or anyone near you.
- Keep children out of the kitchen while you’re cooking. Create a 3-foot child-free zone around the stove, or put up a safety gate. If your kids are old enough, give them kitchen chores that won’t require them to be near the stove or oven, i.e. setting the table.
- Never leave your fireplace unattended, especially with kids in the same room.
- Have a professional chimney sweep company inspect and clean the fireplace and chimney annually.
- Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy metal fireplace screen.
- If you have young children in the home, place a safety gate in the doorway to the room with a fireplace or installing a hearth gate around the area.
- Make sure there are no decorations or paper near or inside the fireplace, and always make sure that the flue is open.
- Be careful with fire salts: keep them out of the reach of children as they can cause an upset stomach if ingested.
- Extinguish the fire fully before leaving the house or going to bed, and allow ashes to cool before removing them. Dispose ashes in a tightly covered metal container, and place it outdoors, at least 10 feet from the home and any other nearby buildings.
- Keep candles away from the christmas tree, decorations, and other household items that can catch fire
- Never leave burning candles unattended, and keep them away from the reach of children.
- Place the candles in stable holders.
- Make it a routine to check that all candles are extinguished before you go to bed.
- As an alternate option, consider using electric or battery-powered candles instead.
Stay Safe & Enjoy a Happy Holiday
Dr. Abha Sharma MD, IBCLC is a Board Certified Pediatrician and Lactation Consultant. She practices and resides in Southern California with her husband and toddler daughter. Her interests are healthy living and eating, reading fashion and lifestyle magazines, and of course, all things lactation.