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  • Writer's picturePaula Robertson

Holiday safety

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Tips for keeping little ones safe over the holiday season

Oh the joys of Christmas! The holidays can be a fun and exciting time for children, but this time of year also sees increased home accidents and attendance to the Pediatric ER. Here are some useful tips on keeping the holiday season safe for the little ones:

Toy safety: Ensure that gifts and toys are age-appropriate and meet safety regulations. Be especially careful with toys and games that contain small parts or magnets that can be swallowed. In the UK, there has been a recent reported fivefold increase in children attending the ER with swallowed magnets over the holiday season. Mr. Thakkar, Consultant Pediatric Surgeon at Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, was quoted as saying, "If children swallow one magnet it will probably pass through their body harmlessly but if they swallow two or more magnets, especially at different times, the magnets, which are increasingly very powerful, are forced together in the intestines, squeezing the tissue so that the blood supply is cut off. Significant damage can be caused within hours… and may require complex operations to remove the magnets and long periods of recovery time in hospital."

Safe decorating: Before children help with putting up the decorations, it’s helpful for you to first cast an eye to make sure that they are safe. For example, make sure all decor, tinsel, and artificial icicles are lead-free. Keep them high and out of reach of small children. Remove decorations that are tiny, have small parts or are easily breakable, as they are hazardous in young children. Choose LED or flameless candles to avoid house fires. Remember that certain plants like poinsettias are toxic if swallowed, so keep them out of the reach of small children. Run light string cords close to the wall to avoid tripping, and never run them under rugs or carpets, as this is a fire hazard.

Safe decorating tips, from the Institute of Childhood Preparedness (source:

Indoor safety: During the festive season, be especially careful that alcoholic drinks are kept out of the reach of little ones. Remind visitors to keep any purses that may contain medicines stored up high, for the same reason. Immediately remove any wrapping paper, bubble wrap, ribbons, or bows that can cause suffocation or choking in infants. Make sure to turn off all decorative indoor lights before going to bed or leaving the house.

Kitchen safety: While preparing those tasty Christmas treats, remember the following safety tips: Keep children and pets out of the kitchen while cooking – one option is to use a baby gate. On the stove, keep pot handles turned inwards towards the back of the stove, and out of the reach of children. Use the back burners instead of the front burners to avoid scalds and have a fire extinguisher handy in case of a grease fire. Don’t forget to turn off the oven and burners when you’re finished cooking.

Christmas Tree safety: Make sure your tree is very secure so children can’t pull on it and tip it over. Check artificial trees for metal surfaces, as this can lead to electric shock if you place electric lights on them. Also do ensure that your tree is flame-retardant, and safety tested. Replace any worn or broken bulbs or loose bulb connections. Never string more than three strings of lights together and avoid overloading electric sockets. Take care not to place the tree anywhere that blocks emergency exits or stairs. Finally, always turn off the tree lights when going to bed or leaving your home.

In case of an unexpected emergency like a fire, have a family escape plan. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy and that everyone who is old enough knows how to use it.

Take care of your families and loved ones and have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

Be well,


Dr Paula Robertson is a busy mom and a paediatrician with over twenty years' experience working with young people and their families. You can find out more at


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