’Tis the season for festive holiday decorations and gatherings, and if you have little ones in your home, attention to safety will help keep things merry and bright. You don’t have to throw out traditions. You can still hang the stockings, trim the tree and light the menorah — just be sensible and cautious.
Deck the halls
If you have an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled “fire resistant.” When choosing a live tree, find the freshest, greenest one possible, and don’t forget the tap test — if the tree loses lots of needles when tapped on the ground, move on. Water live trees frequently and keep them away from the fireplace, radiator or heater.
Check all lights, whether they are used indoors or outside, to ensure they are in good working order with no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. Never place lighted candles on or near the tree, wreaths or any evergreens. Secure the tree to the wall if possible. Turn off all decorative lights, including electric candles and menorahs, before you leave the house or go to bed.
For decorations, stick to flame-resistant, non-breakable ornaments, and if possible, hang them out of your child’s reach.
Skip the tinsel, heirloom ornaments and any trimmings resembling candy or food. Little pieces are potential choking hazards for small children because they could block a child’s airway. The general rule is if an item is small enough to fit in the mouths of babies and toddlers, it is too small to handle or play with.
Be vigilant when children are near the tree; never leave them unattended. Sweep the floor regularly to pick up tree needles, ornament hooks or anything else your baby might put in his or her mouth.
Mistletoe, holly, amaryllis, poinsettias and other plants are considered potentially poisonous, so your best bet is to decorate with artificial varieties or display live plants on high shelves out of reach. Keep the local Poison Control number nearby year-round.
Guide gift givers
Tactfully steer family and friends to toys appropriate to your baby’s age. Create a wish list so you can identify specific items that are a good match for your child. Avoid balloons, toys that plug into outlets, and those with strings or small parts. Give dreidels to older children, not babies or toddlers.
When opening gifts, immediately discard paper, ribbons, bows, plastic bags, old batteries and packing material (like Styrofoam peanuts). Never put wrapping paper in the fireplace.
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