Holiday safety checklist
Have you thought of everything?
The lights are twinkling and the radios are playing the holiday tunes. People are putting up the holiday decorations. It is time for the holiday safety post.
For most people, holidays are a time for celebration. That means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased risk of fire and accidents.
Call me a Debbie Downer if you must, but the mind of an advice nurse is a skewed one. For every aspect of holiday celebrations, I can tell you the story of a patient who called with a related accident. It is not my intent to scare folks with my tales. As I tell parents who attend my safety class, if you know ahead of time what accidents can happen, you have a way better chance of avoiding them.
Baking cookies is just one example. A patient's mom called to tell me that her 10 month old had sustained a burn on his hand. She was holding him in the crook of one arm as she removed the cookie sheets from the oven. As she recounted, he turned into a cartoon character with a telescoping reach and he was able to stretch across her body and grab a hold of the piping hot tray. Simple solution: don't hold your child when you are working with hot stuff in the kitchen. Their arms are longer than you think. If even one accident has been prevented, this post was worth it.
Candles are another hazard. It was a winter evening several years ago in a cabin at Lake Tahoe. Dr. Jessica and family lit some holiday candles and went to sleep. Somehow one of the candles ended up burning a hole through a plastic mat that was on the table. Luckily the smell of burning plastic woke them up before any real damage was done, but it was a frightening lesson. This was a vacation rental. In this instance there seemed to be no working smoke detector. She had no idea if and where there was a fire extinguisher. There are several obvious lessons here. Never go to sleep with candles or a fireplace still burning. Get acquainted with the safety features of any place your family is staying.
Below are some safety considerations for dealing with the holiday season ahead. Some of these may seem like common sense but there might be a few tidbits in here that I am betting you haven't thought about.
Beware of button batteries. They are everywhere nowadays in all sorts of small electronics (and musical cards) and can be quite hazardous if swallowed. Take time in advance to do a mental inventory of items that you have around that may be powered by these. Put a piece of duct tape over the battery compartments to make sure they can't fall out.
Certain holiday plants like poinsettias can be mildly toxic (especially to someone with a latex allergy). You may not have them in your own house, but if you are visiting a friend or even a supermarket make sure little hands don't grab the pretty red leaves and put them in their mouths.
Be very careful transporting hot food to a holiday potluck. I have patients who have been burned from hot food spilling on them in a car.
WARNING TO PET OWNERS
We had a tragedy last year. An eight year old healthy dog got into a wrapped package that was filled with chocolate. The amount ingested proved to be too toxic for this little dog to handle and they didn't make it. Please don't let this happen to you. Make sure that any mystery packages are nowhere near where a pet can get to them.
Christmas tree checklist:
This is not a safety issue, but it is worth mentioning:
Is your child exhibiting any new allergy symptoms? Take a minute to consider whether or not they started during the holiday season. Trees, scented candles and other seasonal extras can trigger some allergies.
Hanukkah doesn’t fall on the same date every year since it is based on a lunar calendar. Many folks laughingly refer to it as coming either “early or late”. It also has more spelling variations than any other holiday. This season it is on the early side and the first candle will be lit on the evening of December 2nd.
Remember that adding water to a grease fire will make it worse! Baking soda is okay, but a fire extinguisher is best. Make sure you know where it is and how to use it.
Kwanzaa may be the safest of the holidays, (no hot oil or stressing the electrical outlets) but there are still candles involved, so make sure they are placed in a safe place and toddlers don't have access.
If I missed any holidays, let me know! I will add them to this post in the future.
This is a great time to test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors!!!
Stay safe and have a wonderful holiday season.