Holiday Safety for Kids

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! As we look forward to the holiday season, parents need to be aware that traveling, decorating, and changes to routines can present safety issues for young children.

Most families are aware of safety concerns when they put up the tree and decorate their own home. But when children are in a different environment, they need to be supervised more carefully. If your family will be traveling, it’s important to be aware of safety concerns.

If you will be staying with relatives who do not have young children, keep these things in mind:

  • Medications may be left on the table or counter at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  Do a quick check and make sure all medications are out of children’s reach. Don’t rely on “child proof” containers.
  • Cleaning products and other poisons may need to be moved.
  • Be sure adults do not leave purses where kids can get at them; they often contain pain relievers or other medications.
  • Look for decorations that might pose a hazard: bubble lights, lamps with lamp oil, seasonal air fresheners.
  • Check out the holiday plants. Mistletoe, especially the berries, Jerusalem cherry, and holly can be toxic. For a complete list of poisonous plants, contact your county extension office.
  • Alcohol poisoning is a concern during the holidays. Children have been known to drink the leftover alcohol in glasses left out after a party. Be sure to do a quick clean up.
  • You may want to check to be sure the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working in your relatives’ home.
  • If Grandma and Grandpa have an old, drop-side crib, do not use it! Drop side cribs are now illegal. They cannot be sold, donated or given away. Cribs that are not drop side, but were manufactured before June of 2011 should be certified as safe. The best idea might be to buy an inexpensive pack-and-play. If you buy it used, be sure it has not been recalled. For more information on safe sleep equipment, visit

If you will be staying in a hotel, here are some tips:

  • Do a quick safety check of the hotel room.
  • Bring along some outlet covers and a night-light.
  • Be sure the hotel door is secure, so a child wandering in the night cannot open it.
  • Ask the hotel if their cribs are certified as safe or consider bringing a pack-and-play.
  • Check the hotel windows to be sure a child can’t open them.
  • Most hotel pools do not have lifeguards. Have each adult from your family take a shift as the primary “water watcher.” That person should not be involved in any other activity except watching the children during their “shift.” Be sure a “water watcher” is on duty anytime children are in the water. Don’t assume everyone is watching—this is how many drownings occur.

No matter where you go, take the Poison Control number with you. Stick it in your purse or wallet. Wherever you are, this number will connect you with the nearest Poison Control Center. The number of calls to the Poison Control Center can be almost three times higher during the holidays.

We wish you “Avera” safe and happy holiday season!

By Betty and Doniese

Family Life Instructors at Avera McKennan

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