Ask the expert: About holiday safety 101

The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year for your little ones. But some seasonal toys, decorations and other items can be potentially hazardous to your family. Haitham Haddad, MD, Medical Director of the Marcy R. Horvitz Pediatric Emergency Center at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, offers the following suggestions to keep the season merry and safe.

Do not toy around with toy safety

  • Choose toys appropriate for the age, abilities and skills of your kids. “Check the toy’s packaging for safety information, such as ‘Not recommended for children under 3 years of age,’” says Dr. Haddad.
  • Select battery-operated toys, rather than toys that need an outlet, for kids younger than age 10. Dr. Haddad adds, “Avoid button battery operated toys or gadgets. They increase the risk for swallowing events.”
  • Beware of pull toys with strings longer than 12 inches, which can pose strangulation hazards to young children.
  • Teach older kids to keep their toys away from little siblings.
  • Do not give younger kids toys with sharp edges, small parts or sharp points.
  • Help protect your little ones from choking by not giving them balls, marbles or items with button eyes. Dr. Haddad recommends, “Stay away from toys that have parts smaller than 1¾ inches in diameter and 2¼ inches long.”
  • If you give skateboards, bicycles, scooters or inline skates to your kids, make sure they always wear helmets and other safety gear, such as wrist, hand and shin guards, when using them.

Deck the halls with care

  • If you set up a Christmas tree, place it away from fireplaces, portable heaters and radiators. Cut a few inches off the trunk of the tree to expose the fresh wood, which allows for better water absorption, and keep the tree well-watered so it does not dry out and become a fire hazard. Dr. Haddad adds, “Before buying an artificial tree, check the label to make sure it is fire-resistant.”
  • If you have small children, avoid ornaments and decorations that resemble food or are breakable.
  • String outdoor lights using hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. “Turn all lights off when you leave the house or go to bed,” suggests Dr. Haddad. “The lights could short out and start a fire.”
  • Clean up all used wrapping paper, bags, ribbons and bows soon after opening presents – they could pose a choking, suffocation or fire hazard.

Pediatric emergency care is right in your neighborhood

Available 24/7 at nine locations

You are now closer than ever to emergency services designed specifically for babies and children, all in nine convenient locations with staff dedicated to getting you and your family the care you need as quickly as possible.

Marcy R. Horvitz Pediatric Emergency Center at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital

11100 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland

Marcy R. Horvitz Pediatric Emergency Center at UH Ahuja Medical Center

3999 Richmond Road, Beachwood

UH Geauga Medical Center

13207 Ravenna Road, Chardon

UH Twinsburg Health Center

8819 Commons Boulevard, Suite 101, Twinsburg

St. John Medical Center

29000 Center Ridge Road, Westlake

New! Mercy Allen Hospital

200 West Lorain Street, Oberlin

New! Mercy Regional Medical Center

3700 Kolbe Road, Lorain

Southwest General Health Center

18697 Bagley Road, Middleburg Heights

New! Southwest General Brunswick Medical Center

4065 Center Road, Brunswick

Haitham Haddad

Medical Director, Marcy R. Horvitz Pediatric Emergency Center, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital
Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

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