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The holiday season is about spending time with family and loved ones, but also road trips, parties and festivities, trimming the tree, decorations and more. Here is what you need to know to keep your children safe during this special time of year.

Whether you’re hosting a holiday gathering or going to visit friends and family, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Keep alcohol out of reach. Even a small amount of wine, beer, or liquor sipped from an unattended cup at a holiday party may be highly toxic to a young child.
  • Party food is fun but can be dangerous. Nuts, olives, small hard candies, cocktail franks, and popcorn can present a choking hazard for babies and toddlers. Be mindful of little ones and set these items at a level where young ones can’t reach them.
  • Candles can set the mood and ambiance in a room. Keep candles at least twelve inches away from anything that can burn and again, keep them out of reach of little ones.
  • Keep a list with important phone numbers in a visible location (kitchen or near a phone) for you, your guests or a babysitter, in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department, your pediatrician and the national Poison Help Line, 1-800-222-1222.

Decorations are tradition and play an important role in the holidays, but they can also pose danger. Keep your family safe with these tips:

  • Carefully inspect each string of lights and discard any with frayed cords, cracked bulb holders, or loose connections. Always turn off your holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house. If using an extension cord, be sure it’s certified or rated and used as intended (indoor vs. outdoor).
  • Purchase a fresh cut tree (or as fresh as possible), as they are more resistant to catching fire. Keep your tree watered and away from open flames or candles. If you're buying an artificial tree, look for the label "fire resistant". Although this label does not mean the tree won't catch fire, it does indicate the tree is more resistant to burning.  Secure your tree in a wide, stable base so there's no chance that a little one can tug and knock it over.
  • Avoid putting sharp, easily breakable decorations on the tree, especially on the lower portion. Anything with small removable parts or that resemble candy or food should be avoided as well. Most wrapping paper and ribbons are nontoxic, but certain foils and colored gift wraps may contain lead, so it's best not to let babies chew on them.
  • Mistletoe holly, Christmas rose, and Jerusalem cherry are all poisonous. They should be kept out of reach of both children and pets. Poinsettias are actually not as toxic as people think. However, if ingested they may cause stomach irritation or burning in the mouth.

Spend time with your family and relish the absolute joy of the holidays. This is the time to enjoy your holiday traditions, make new ones and cherish the memories.

Be Merry and Be Safe with Children’s Medical Center

Our team of board-certified pediatricians are dedicated to ensuring your children remain healthy and safe this holiday season and all year long. Keep our number nearby and call us if you have any concerns during this busy time of year.

Palm Harbor (727) 787-6335

West Chase (813) 891-6501

Trinity (727) 376-8404

Lutz (813) 751-3131