Avoid Holiday Hazards in the Home
That scent of nutmeg and allspice filling the house like a warm hug. The steaming cup of cocoa with the perfectly arranged marshmallows. A crackling fire in the fireplace. It really does seem like the most wonderful time of the year.
It is also one of the busiest times of the year for Acadiana emergency rooms. That is because tiny fingers guided by curious little minds often find hidden – and some not so hidden – holiday dangers around the home. Here are some tips to keep the holidays merry and bright for your little ones.
The kitchen is a buzzing hub of activity and potential injury with oven doors opening and closing, sharp knives on counter tops, pot handles not always placed away from the front of the stove. Little hands grabbing for a cookie fresh from the oven or tipping a simmering pot of sauce can cause severe burns. Be mindful of little ones who wander into the kitchen during holiday meal prep. Keep hot pans and plates out of reach and always turn handles on simmering pots inward to the middle of the stove. Just to be safe, check old appliances that maybe have not been used in a while to be sure wiring is secure and the device works appropriately to avoid a potential fire or electric shock.
Food poisoning can take the joy right out of your world. Cooking? Wash your hands often. Properly sanitize utensils, dishes, cutting boards, counter tops – anything that can come into contact with raw meat, seafood or eggs. Give leftovers time to cool before you tuck them away safely in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer. Likewise, give any frozen recipe components time to properly thaw before use.
The beauty and creativity of Christmas lights and ornaments can inspire awe and wonder … even in little ones who have a tough time keeping hands to self and things out of their mouths. Smaller ornaments, tinsel, icicles and hooks can be choking hazards, their pointy parts can poke an eye or get stuck in a nose. Place breakable ornaments on upper branches, safe from the reach of tiny fingers. Check tree lights to ensure they are working properly. Consider using clear fishing line to anchor your tree in place to prevent it from tipping over if tugged or pushed.
Of course, the holidays mean more people on the road. Buckle your little ones up securely in an appropriate and properly installed car seat. If you plan to enjoy an adult beverage or two, give your keys to a trusted family member or friend to drive you home later. Also, more people on the road means you need to bring a little more patience with you each time you get behind the wheel. Be courteous, be cautious and get there safe.
’Tis the Season
Watching the minutes tick by as the delicious holiday feast is being prepared becomes more tolerable with tasty seasonal snacks at hand. Many of these recipes include nuts, popcorn or other choking hazards that should not be given to any child under age four. Food allergies have a way of taking the “happy” out of the holidays. Survey anyone coming by ahead of their arrival to determine what is safe to serve.
Poinsettias are plentiful and quite pretty this time of the year. Like mistletoe, holly and other plants used as typical holiday décor, they’re also potentially poisonous and should be kept out of children’s reach. If you think a child ingested any part of these plants, call (337) 470-ERRN (3776) to speak to a registered nurse for free anytime of the day or night.
Have a fresh tree? Make sure to check the water level daily. A dry tree can become a major fire hazard. Prefer artificial? Look for ones labeled “fire retardant.” Place fresh or artificial trees at a safe distance from the fireplace to avoid an unintended spark or ember from igniting the tree. Keep lit candles away from the tree and never leave them unattended, especially with little ones around. It only takes a minute for a tipped candle or ember to spark a fire.
An ounce of precaution is all you need to keep this holiday merry, safe and bright. Emergency Department teams are ready to help if things don’t go as planned. Happy holidays.
Dr. Aaron Tiffee is a board-certified Emergency Department physician with Our Lady of Lourdes. Discover more at LourdesRMC.com.