Dec 24, 2018

Dr. Gellner: The holidays should be happy, but hidden dangers lurk in the decorated halls. How to protect your kids over the holidays.

Announcer: Keep your kids healthy and happy. You are now entering The Healthy Kids Zone with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: There are so many shiny decorations that will catch a child's eye, especially because they are only brought out this time of the year. This means you need to be extra vigilant about child-proofing. Take a few minutes to protect your kids from these common but preventable holiday home hazards.

Start with what your child will be most interested in; the tree. Secure your tree firmly in its stand so it won't topple over and injure the little ones. Don't allow horseplay around the tree. Create a kid-free zone three feet around the tree's parameter.

Bright sparkly ornaments and holiday decorations are appealing to small kids, but they can be dangerous. Some contain lead or break easily, and bubble lights contain methylene chloride, a poisonous chemical. Keep these up high out of children's reach or packed away until the kids are older. Remind the younger children they are pretty to look at, but don't touch.

Candles add ambience this time of the year, but make sure they are out of the kids' reach and never left unattended. Better yet, use battery-operated flameless candles. They provide that warm glow without the fire hazard.

Small toys can be choking risks and batteries, if swallowed, can damage a digestive system. Choose age appropriate toys for the kids and closely supervise younger curious siblings.

If you're hoping for a white Christmas, remind your kids not to eat snow, and not just the yellow kind, all snow. For several reasons, this is not a good idea. Even snow that looks clean can contain pollutants, dirt or fecal matter. Plus, eating too much of the white stuff will lower your body temperature.

And what about those pretty poinsettias? Go ahead and pretty up your home with the red and green festive colors. The poinsettia plant is not toxic. Eating the leaves isn't going to be harmful, although the sap will cause a slight rash if you get it on you. Be sure not to touch your eyes if you have the sap on your hands. It will burn.

So what if your child did manage to get into a holiday hazard? Help is always there when you need it. You can call The Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222, or program the number into your phone today for easy access if you ever need it. So remember to keep your holidays holly and protect your children.

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updated: December 24, 2018
originally published: December 18, 2015

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