When you have young ones, especially infants and toddlers, nearly everything carries a potential peril. That’s why we take measures like anchoring furniture to walls, using safety gates, and adding child-resistant latches on cabinets. Nevertheless, even a well child-proofed home can be vulnerable to holiday safety risks. The holiday season brings decorations and items that are not typically present in our homes for most of the year, so it’s essential to be mindful of potential dangers.
Here’s a compilation of common holiday safety risks to keep an eye out for this year. Keep reading and let us know on Instagram if you have additional items to contribute to the list. Let’s make the safety of ourselves and our children a top priority this holiday season.
1. Stockings on the Mantle
If you hang stockings from the mantle using heavy or pointed stocking holders (such as Christmas trees, stars, snowflakes, etc.), consider finding an alternative way to secure them this year. Young children can suffer severe injuries by tugging on a stocking and being hit in the head or eye by the stocking holder that comes crashing down.
If you are fond of your stocking holder decor, consider this mom hack: install cup hooks directly beneath the stocking holders to hang the stockings from—it will still appear as if your stockings are hanging from the holders… but safely! You can also try using lightweight mantle hooks from Target.
available in multiple finishes
2. Ornaments on the Tree
We are not discouraging the placement of ornaments on your tree. Just keep in mind that small ornaments pose choking hazards, and glass or breakable ones can cause cuts. You can find numerous exquisite, non-breakable ornaments for the parts of the tree that little hands can reach.
3. Tall or Heavy Decor
If children can reach something and knock it over, they likely will. Kids are attracted to novelty, so if heavy decor items such as Santa statues or reindeer statues can fall on them, consider whether to set them up this year. The same applies to any new furniture or accent pieces brought out for the holidays—bookcases, dressers, cabinets, armoires—all should be fixed to the wall, even if they are not in the child’s room.
4. Battery-Operated Decor and Toys
Many people adore the battery-operated mini LED string lights, but it’s crucial to ensure that children cannot reach them or any other battery-powered decorations or toys. This includes making sure they cannot climb onto furniture or use a footstool to reach them. Button-shaped batteries are particularly hazardous due to their circular shape, posing a choking hazard. Furthermore, any type of battery can cause esophageal burns if swallowed within two hours. Seal battery compartments closed to prevent them from opening if dropped, and store batteries in a secure place away from children.
5. Decor with Faux Berries or Other Small Elements
Is your garland or wreath adorned with small faux berries or other small elements? These can pose choking hazards as they may fall off when you are setting up or putting away your decorations. Consider opting for simpler decorative elements this year, or be vigilant for any small pieces that may detach and roll away for little hands to find later.
6. Candles and Cozy Fires
During the holidays, many people enjoy winter-scented candles and fires in the fireplace. Keep all fire sources away from children, as well as away from your tree and other decorations such as garland and wreaths. December and January are the peak months for home fires, so be sure to have your fireplace checked before using it for the first time, and ensure that all of your smoke alarms are working.
7. Holiday Cooking
The kitchen is a busy place during the holidays and is also where home fires are most likely to start. Keep a close eye on anything that is cooking, and set timers to prevent becoming distracted and forgetting about something in the oven or on the stove. For young children, ensure that all pot handles are turned inward on the stove so they cannot be pulled down, consider child-proofing your stove knobs, and keep children out of the kitchen before opening ovens or moving hot dishes from one surface to another.
8. New Toys and Clothes
We all love receiving new toys during the holidays, but it’s important to ensure that the beautifully wrapped gifts are as safe on the inside as they appear on the outside. Clothing, such as shoes, often comes with silica gel packets, which should not be ingested and are choking hazards. Remove these before wrapping your gifts, and be vigilant as gifts are being opened by friends and family. Check new toys for loose parts, small pieces, and batteries to ensure that none are within reach of young children.
9. Plastic Packaging and Bags
As you and your children enjoy opening presents, or if you are receiving presents to be wrapped, be sure to promptly dispose of any plastic packaging or bags so that your children cannot find them later. The holiday season can be chaotic, especially while opening gifts and discarding wrapping paper and bows, so try to keep a close eye on your children and others as they open their gifts.