Play It Safe This Holiday Season

By Dr. Jack Skowron, AdvantageCare Physicians

This winter season, I encourage you to practice good holiday safety to ensure you and your family, remain safe and injury free.

Home Safety
While holiday lights look beautiful, they can be dangerous and start fires if not properly installed. Make sure to take a look at the ones in and around your home for frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), about 2,200 deaths were caused by fires, burns and other fire-related injuries in 2013. Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn, and don’t forget to blow them out when you leave the room or before you go to sleep. Make a habit of placing matches and lighters in a safe place, out of children’s reach and avoid novelty lighters or lighters that look like toys.

To prevent burns from hot holiday food or liquid spills, simply use the back burner of your stove and turn pot handles away from the edge.

On the Road
According to the Children’s National Health System, 73 percent of car seats are not used or installed correctly. Before you hit the road for your holiday drive, check your car seat — it only takes a few minutes. Also, be sure to seatbelt everyone in the car, regardless of the distance being traveled.

After holiday parties, use a designated driver to ensure everyone makes it home safely because alcohol, over-the-counter or illegal drugs can all cause impairment. Additionally, the NSC reports that 1 in every 4 car crashes are due to cell phone use. To prevent accidents avoid using your cell phone when driving.

See the NCSA’s guide on winter driving and learn how to prepare for the season.

Toy Safety
In the coming weeks, as you shop for that perfect toy, keep in mind the following:

  • Consider your child’s age when purchasing a toy or game. It’s worth a second to read the instructions and warning labels to make sure it’s right for your child. Use your own best judgment — and consider your child’s temperament, habits and behavior.
  • Before you’ve settled on the perfect toy, check to make sure there aren’t any small parts, small game pieces or other potential choking hazards. They can pose a potential danger for younger, curious siblings.
  • Keep a special eye on small pieces, including button batteries that may be included in electronic toys. While these kinds of games are great for older kids, they can pose a potential danger for younger, curious siblings.
  • If your child’s heart is set on a bike, skateboard or scooter this holiday season, be sure to include a helmet to keep them safe while they’re having fun.
  • To store toys, make sure there are no holes or hinges on bins and containers that could catch little fingers.

For more information on toy safety, see the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission guide: For Kid’s Sake.

Dr. Jack Skowron is pediatrician for AdvantageCare Physicians, one of New York’s largest physician-led multispecialty practices serving half a million patients in 36 locations throughout New York City and Long Island.

Source: Safe Kids Worldwide, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Safety Council