Media Release: Holiday tips: Holiday Safety Tips

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Dayton Children's urges parents to keep a watchful eye on the kids this holiday

11-16-2009 (Dayton, OH) - Kids don't want to miss out on anything during the holiday season. They will want to lend a hand with decorating or making a favorite holiday dish. Dayton Children's urges parents to keep a watchful eye on the kids this holiday season to prevent accidental poisonings and accidents in the kitchen.

"The excitement of the holiday season requires parents to be extra vigilant about protecting children from poison," says Tom Krzmarzick, MD, medical director of the Soin Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center at Dayton Children's.

The holidays often bring a number of relatives and guests into the home bearing gifts, plants, decorations, as well as suitcases and purses containing medications. All these items may contain hazardous substances.

Other problems can arise when parents visit relatives and a child enters a home that is not poison proofed.

Parents and caregivers should be on the look out for these poisoning risks.

Plants and decorations

  • Keep ornamental plants such as Holly, Mistletoe, and Jerusalem Cherry out of the reach of children. They can be poisonous if swallowed.
  • Christmas cactus and Poinsettias are not poisonous when eaten. However, eating many leaves of these plants may cause mild stomach upset. In addition, the sap of the Poinsettia plant may cause a skin rash and should be washed off with mild soap and warm water.
  • Lead can be found in holiday lights, antique ornaments and plastic decorations. To avoid lead exposure, do not allow children to put these items in their mouths and wash their hands often.
  • Spray snow is safe when it is dry, but it is an aerosol containing chemicals that can irritate the lungs, nose and eyes during spraying. Use in well-ventilated areas and do not spray near children.
  • Angel hair consists of spun glass similar to fiberglass and can injure eyes, skin, stomach and intestines if swallowed.
  • Bubble lights often contain methylene chloride. If swallowed, this liquid is very irritating and can be converted in the body to carbon monoxide. Keep them out of the reach of children.
  • Lamp oil looks like a tasty beverage, but can easily get into the lungs and cause pneumonia if swallowed. Keep all lamps and containers of oil tightly closed and out of the reach of children.

Parties and presents

  • Adults should make sure alcoholic drinks are cleaned up and out of reach during and after a party. Poisoning can occur when children drink leftover cocktails after parties. Children become affected by alcohol much more quickly than adults, so even small amounts can be dangerous to children.
  • Remember specialty baking products such as extracts can contain alcohol and other harmful substances; an example is oil of wintergreen which contains high levels of aspirin.
  • Cigarettes and cigars contain enough nicotine to be dangerous to children. Ingestion can result in vomiting, sweating and seizures. Keep all ashtrays out of reach of children and empty them at the end of the evening. Better yet, ask smokers to light up outside of the house.
  • Colognes, perfumes and after-shave contain heavy concentrations of alcohol. Small children attracted to the packaging and sweet smell can ingest these products by mistake.
  • Holidays mean visits from family and friends. Be sure any medication a visitor is bringing into your home has child-resistant caps and is kept out of reach of children. This may mean removing medications from a suitcase and locking them up high in a medicine cabinet. Also be sure any medication you have in your own home is stored safely.
  • Keep food safety in mind during the holiday season. Wash hands and utensils after preparing raw food; cook meats and poultry thoroughly; and promptly refrigerate dips, eggs, cheeses and meats.
  • Small batteries - the type used in watches, cameras, hearing aids and calculators - can be dangerous if swallowed, as they can cause burns or poisonous chemical leaks. Store batteries as safely as you do medicines and household products.
  • What do you do if a child has eaten something poisonous?

    • An adult should call the local Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222)
    • Call 911, not poison control, if a child is choking, having trouble breathing, is difficult to arouse or having a seizure. Follow the 911 operator's instructions. Do not induce vomiting or give the child any fluid or medication unless directed.

    Cook up something safe this holiday season

    As holiday goodies are being prepared, children are eager to lend a hand. Whether they are decorating cookies or mixing salad dressing, children need close adult supervision at all times in and around the kitchen.

    "The holidays present a great opportunity for children to learn about cooking in a fun, festive manner, but it can also be dangerous," said Jessica Saunders, community relations manager at Dayton Children's and Safe Kids Greater Dayton coordinator. "It's crucial for parents to keep a close eye on the kids and set strict rules for kitchen safety."

    It is also important for parents and caregivers to consider the age and abilities of children when it comes to assigning kitchen duties.

    Generally, children younger than age 10 don't fully understand what danger means and should not handle the stove, electrical appliances, sharp utensils or hot dishes. Younger children can begin helping in the kitchen with basics, like washing vegetables and fruits, decorating cookies, or other tasks that don't require sharp knives, appliances or heat.

    Dayton Children's and Safe Kids Greater Dayton recommend the following tips for keeping children safe as they learn to help out in the kitchen:

    1. Be sure you've taken essential safety steps, such as having a fire extinguisher nearby and posting emergency numbers near the phone, before introducing a child to cooking.
    2. Never leave a child unattended in the kitchen. Close supervision is essential, whether children are helping an adult cook or simply watching.
    3. Never hold a child while cooking.
    4. Put pans on back burners and turn all pot handles toward the back of the stove.
    5. Use caution when heating food and liquids in the microwave.
    6. Supervise your child when he or she is near or using a microwave, and never let a young child (younger than age 10) remove heated items from the microwave.
    7. Make sure you and your children wear close-fitting clothing when cooking.
    8. Never leave cooking food unattended - it is the number-one cause of house fires.
    9. Place hot foods and liquids away from the edges of counters and tables.
    10. Pay particular attention to items sitting on tablecloths or placemats, so that young children cannot pull hot food or liquid down and scald themselves.
    11. Unplug appliance cords when not in use and keep them tied up, out of children's reach.
By taking the time to create a safe holiday environment, parents can help to unsure that their children enjoy many safe and happy holidays!

For more information, contact:
Marketing Communications Department
Phone: 937-641-3666


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