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Keeping children safe over Christmas

Friday 5th November 2021

Christmas is always a busy time with presents to buy, meals to plan and family and friends to entertain. It’s easy to get too involved in all the planning, and overlook the safety of young children. Here’s our guide to ensuring your Christmas isn’t derailed by a visit to A&E.

Friends and family

Make sure visitors to the house, such as grandparents, don’t leave medicines in places where children can find them, for example in handbags or counted out on bedside cabinets. Medicines are the most common cause of accidental poisoning in children, with everyday painkillers a frequent culprit.

If you’re staying with relatives or friends over Christmas, remember that the top bunk of bunk beds can be dangerous for children under six. And bear in mind that safety items you might have at home, such as stair gates and cupboard locks, might not be available where you are staying.

Do visitors or hosts use e-cigarettes? Ensure they keep their e-cigarettes and refills well out of the reach of young children. Just a tiny amount of nicotine can kill a child and in its liquid state, can easily be ingested.

 Food and drink

The kitchen can be a hectic place on Christmas day. So keep young children out of the kitchen while you’re preparing Christmas dinner to avoid burns and scalds. One in ten children’s accidents happen in the kitchen.

Clear away any bottles of alcohol and any dregs: even small amounts of alcohol can poison young children.

Christmas decorations

Keep candles away from Christmas trees and decorations. And don’t hang decorations from lights and heaters, as they can catch alight and burn easily.

Remember to turn off fairy lights and blow out candles before heading to bed. And check that your smoke alarms are working, so there’s time to get out if a fire does start.

Toy safety

Buying presents for your kids is fun for everyone but it’s important to make sure that the toys you buy are safe.

Always head to good retailers that you’ve heard of and have a good reputation. Markets or new, temporary shops often sell illegally imported toys that often don’t meet strict toy safety requirements.

These toys may seem like a bargain but they are not built to safe standards and could be dangerous for little ones.

Make sure you look at the age range on the toy packaging, as babies and toddlers can choke on small parts or swallow harmful parts of the toy. Toys that are not meant for young children are clearly marked.

Make sure stairs are free from toys and other clutter. Children will be rushing around to find visitors, open presents and play with their new toys, so remove things that could cause a bad fall down stairs. Believe it or not, the main risk to safety from toys is that of children and adults tripping over them!

Dangers in small things

Look out for small things that young children can choke on. Put small decorations high out of reach, tidy away small plastic toys from crackers.

Some toys and novelty goods (such as musical books and Christmas cards) contain button batteries. You’ll also find them in flameless tea lights and candles, which many of us are choosing as a safer alternative to the real thing this Christmas.

If swallowed, a button battery can cause a catastrophic chemical reaction inside the body that can result in a child bleeding to death.

 Party hair

Hair straighteners can get as hot as your iron and stay hot for up to 40 minutes. They can cause devastating injuries to babies’ and toddlers’ delicate skin.

Keep them out of reach after use, ideally in a heat-proof pouch. If you have older children in your family who are getting hair straighteners for the first time as a present, encourage them to do the same.

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