The holidays: notoriously busy, notoriously ... dangerous? Sure, if you're a kid. During this time of the year, there are added household dangers that increase the risk of injury and even death for children. Ovens, Christmas trees, holiday lights and ornaments all pose major risks to little ones, who are virtually eye level with everything hot, electric and inedible.
momlogic: What should parents look out for during the holiday season?
Marcel Casavant: Some of the more dangerous holiday-season risks are button batteries, which can be swallowed or put in a nose or ear or other places. Button batteries can rapidly cause internal burns. Keep these away from children. Burn risks are also a danger during the holiday season, when many families are using candles, serving more hot beverages, doing more baking and using the fireplace more. The tablecloth, which might not even be used at other times of year, can contribute to burns if a child pulls on the it and pulls down a hot liquid. Sometimes we have children helping with holiday baking -- a wonderful idea, but one which requires careful supervision. We're pretty careful to keep our homes safe for children, but during the holidays we go to someone else's house, where they haven't been so careful about child safety. Or a guest comes into our house and leaves a purse -- which may contain medicine, cigarettes or other hazards -- in reach of the children.
ml: What are the best precautions parents can take?
MC: The most important thing is to be aware that injuries can happen anytime, but there may be a higher risk to children around the holidays. Risks go up when our routines are disrupted, when our attention is distracted, when kids get less adult supervision and when we introduce new products or activities.
ml: You talk about looking at your house from a kid's perspective. Why is this important?
MC: It's always a good idea to pay attention to safety. If a situation in your home looks potentially dangerous, fix it. Then have another look at your home, but this time, look at things from a child's perspective. Ask yourself, "Is this a pretty poison -- something that's poisonous but which, through the eyes of a child, looks tasty or fun or resembles something I recognize as safe?" Looking at things from a child's perspective gives us one more opportunity to see ways our children might get hurt, so get down on their level, pretend you're a toddler and have a look. "If I'm a kid and I'm going to get injured around here, how would it happen?" Identify the hazards -- and then make the environment safe.