Whether this is your first Christmas as a parent or you are hosting your brother’s family and the kids this year, we want to review some great child-proofing advice that you can use to keep your new visitors (or residents) happy and safe this holiday season.
- Holidays and flames go together. Kids and flames don’t mix at all. Holidays are filled with our use of indoor flame—fireplaces burning through the night and holiday candles (advent, scented, menorahs) are two great sources of open flame in your home. If this holiday involves children in your home, you must make sure that they have no access to the flames.
- Holiday plants are surprisingly toxic this time of year. While poinsettias might not be as deadly as everyone thinks (to humans, although they are very dangerous to pets), mistletoe, holly, and pyracantha (firethorn) are very toxic and can lead to massive stomach troubles (and could possibly be fatal). Decorating with fake plants or other types of decorations may be better than giving these plants to your children, guests, and pets.
- Not-so-common common sense stuff: If you haven’t spent the past few years with a child day-in and day-out, you’re not going to be able to think of all the possible hazards a kid may encounter. The easy ones? Cover electrical outlets, remove sharp objects, secure all medications and keep them out of reach, lock up cleaning supplies or store them in the basement, lock windows and doors that lead to an outdoor balcony, etc.
- Never underestimate the power of the young child.
- Keep children away from space heaters, and never leave a space heater on but unattended. Perhaps you’re going to be putting family to bed in that drafty room that no one usually uses . . . if you do, add blankets, not space heaters. Sleeping or leaving a space heater unattended is a very dangerous situation in which to put anyone, especially a child.
- Wash your hands regularly, and encourage others to do so, too. The holidays are a great time of year, but many times local germs from around the nation will travel with their hosts and mingle throughout the holiday. Washing your hands regularly helps to ensure you stay healthy this season.
It’s not tremendously hard to prepare for a young one this Christmas season, but it is important to remember that they are going to be more curious than smart when it comes to safety. By leaving materials out for them to discover or forgetting to block access to a balcony or pair of steps, you can raise the risk of a tragedy occurring. In short, try to outsmart the little ones and visiting family members, and remember that you’re not used to thinking defensively when it comes to your own home—you can’t be expected to get it 100% right the first time. Ask a parent or friend to help take a look around to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
Have a wonderful holiday season!
Henry Duckstein Jr.