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AVOIDING HOLIDAY HAZARDS

- Local Families Encouraged to Consider Child Safety When Planning for the Festivities This December -

Home for the holidays is something to enjoy, but not if it poses an injury risk to children.

That’s the message from public health officials in the area, who encourage families to make their homes as safe as they can this festive season. Injuries remain the leading cause of death for children in Canada and a leading cause of hospitalization (Source: Parachute Canada). The risk of injury can also increase at a time of year when children’s excitement over gifts and decorations can cloud their sense and judgment, warns the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.

“The holidays should be memorable for the decorations, special traditions, family gatherings and presents, not because of a child’s injury,” says Kelly Taylor, a Family Health Nurse with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “Spending a bit of time ‘safe-proofing’ your home for children can help ensure it is a happy holiday season for everyone.”

Whether it’s avoiding hazards around the tree and decorations, choosing toys that are child-friendly, or taking precautions when visiting or entertaining guests, the Health Unit offers the following safety tips:

Toys and Gifts

• Select sturdy, well-made toys that are age-appropriate for children. Toys for older children may contain small parts or other hazards that make them unsafe for very young children.

• Do your homework. Check the Government of Canada’s recall and safety alerts database before purchasing a toy. Read and follow the age labels, warnings, safety messages and assembly instructions that come with a toy. Keep the contact information for the toy’s manufacturer/importer as well.

• After the toy is unwrapped, remove and properly dispose of packaging such as plastic wrap, foam, staples, ties and temporary plastic films. After the holidays, be sure to check in on your child’s toys, looking for hazards like loose parts, broken pieces or sharp edges. Any weak or damaged toys should be repaired or thrown out.

Trees and Decorations

• If buying a real tree, make sure it is fresh (do this by checking if the needles are hard to pull off). Once the tree is brought indoors for decorating, water it once each day.

• Place the tree away from high traffic areas and doorways. Be sure the tree is well-secured to a sturdy stand, and is kept away from sources of heat such as heating vents, radiators, fireplaces and stoves.

• Use lights that have the mark of an accredited certification agency (e.g. CSA). Replace broken or burned-out bulbs on lights, and ensure you use lights in the right location (if it is rated for indoor use only, only use it indoors; same goes for outdoor use).

• Keep sharp, breakable or small ornaments away from young children. Instead, consider using soft, unbreakable decorations.

• Keep burning candles away from trees and decorations. Never leave a lit candle unattended or within reach of children or pets.
Family Get-Togethers

• Watch that young children do not get into things that pose hazards, such as alcohol left on tables or medication in open purses.

• Watch for possible burn hazards if a relative or friend is holding a child while also grasping a hot drink.

• Be cautious if visiting the home of a friend or relative, as the new surroundings may be unfamiliar and not ‘child-proofed.’
For media inquiries, contact:

Kelly Taylor, Family Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 457-1391, or 1-866-888-4577, ext. 3233.

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