While the winter holiday season is a joyous time for tradition and family gatherings, it also can create opportunities for tragic, unintentional injuries to occur. Here are safety tips for preparing your house for safe visits with grandparents or grandchildren.
Falls are the number-one cause of injury to children and elderly.
- Check the paths to, from and within your home to ensure there are no hazards waiting to trip on.
- Ensure that mats or rugs are secure to the floor with non-skid backing.
During the holiday season across the United States, approximately two to three people every hour are treated in Emergency Departments for fall-related injuries sustained while decorating. (CDC, 2004)
- Decorating with lights often requires the use of a ladder; improper use could lead to broken bones or head injuries.
- Practice ladder safety when you are putting up Christmas lights by choosing the right ladder and ensuring that it is on a stable, even and flat surface - never place the ladder on top of another object.
In the Kitchen
From Thanksgiving through New Years Day there is an increase of severe burn injuries.
- Do not leave appliances unattended.
- Remain in the kitchen until you are finished cooking.
- Keep pot handles turned in on the stove so they cannot be pulled or knocked off and always keep the oven door closed.
- Liquids and food cooked in microwaves are hotter than you think.
- Test anything that comes out of the microwave yourself before giving it to a child.
- Place the heater on a level, hard, nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor.
- Never place a space heater on carpets or a rug that could catch fire.
- Keep the heater at least three feet away from bedding, drapes, furniture, and other flammable materials.
- Ensure the model you choose has a "tip switch" that will shut it off if it is knocked over or falls.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- Turn the heater off if you leave the area, never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep.
- Have a smoke alarm with fresh batteries on each level of the house and inside every bedroom. In addition, have a carbon monoxide alarm outside the bedrooms in each separate sleeping area.
- Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
- Always burn candles where you can see them and never near anything that can catch fire. Blow out lit candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
- If you host or participate in a holiday party where alcohol is served, do not drive after drinking.
- If children are around, take care to remove all empty or partially empty glasses to ensure that a child does not ingest alcohol.
- Keep breakable ornaments out reach. If one does break, clean up the broken glass quickly. Ornaments, Christmas light bulbs, tinsel, and small toys can place small children at risk to choke because they can block the airway if accidentally swallowed. Do not give children under 3 years old toys or items with small parts.
- Keep all medications in containers with safety caps, out of reach and locked away from children. Do not leave a purse or overnight bag on the ground or in a place where a curious child can remove medications or potentially hazardous items.
- Make sure the crib for the baby is sturdy with no loose or missing hardware.
- Never leave children alone for a moment near any water or in the bathtub (even with a bath seat). Check the temperature of the bath water before placing a child in the bath.