by Children's Of Alabama Partners in Health
Check out this 2-min video on keeping kids safe around the Christmas tree this holiday season.
Dr. Terri Coco, emergency room physician at Children’s of Alabama, says that the number one Christmas tree safety tip is to be proactive.
“Talk to your kids about fire safety, have a family fire plan in place and well rehearsed and check smoke detectors before you put up your Christmas tree and other holiday decorations,” she says. “As you decorate your tree, talk to your children about the joy, beauty and hazards that the Christmas tree and other decorations can have. Explain to your children that none of the decorations are toys or should be put in their mouths.”
To avoid holiday hazards due to Christmas trees, follow these safety guidelines:
- Keep the tree itself out of the mouths of children.The needles of Christmas trees can cause cuts in the mouth and throat if a child were to swallow them.
- When buying a Christmas tree, make sure it is fresh, ans water daily to keep needles from falling off quickly.
- Put Christmas trees in a place that is away from heat sources that may cause it to catch fire such as fire places and stoves.
- Look for safety approved labels. If you choose an artificial tree, look for one that is labeled “flame resistant” or “fire retardant.”
- Ornaments, tinsel and lights, if not used properly and safely, can be fire or choking risks. When trimming your tree, consider how these decorations can be dangerous to smaller children.
- Keep ornaments up or away from small children. Keep breakable ornaments out of the reach of young children. “Around the holidays in the ER, I most often see cuts to the body or mouth from broken ornaments and decorations,” Coco says.
- Remember lights out before bed. Unplug all indoor and outdoor lights and distinguish all candles before heading off to bed.
- Avoid using real candles on a tree. If the trees needles are dry, they are easily flammable. “In the last few years LED candles have hit the market,” Coco explains. “They are a good alternative to the real thing.”
- Christmas tree ornaments, light bulbs and tinsel are potential choking hazards. If ingested by small children, these decorations may block the airway causing the child to choke. “Anything that can fit into a toilet paper roll can be choked on by a small child.”
- Christmas trees can also be heavy and pose the risk of tipping over or falling down. Small children may want to tug on the tree which could cause it to fall. If the tree were to fall down, it could potentially hurt the child or the broken glass from the lights and ornaments could cut the child.
- Secure your tree. Keep your tree in a sturdy stand so that it is not easily moved.
If your child is to ingest hazardous material, call the Regional Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.