As the holidays approach, the Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition shares the following tips to help ensure a safe and happy season:

 Decorations

  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the “fire resistant” label.
  • When purchasing a live tree, select a fresh, green tree with needles that are hard to pull off, bend between fingers and do not easily break.
  • Inspect holiday lights for damage before decorating, check for frayed wires and loose connections. Never install more than 3 lights in a single extension cord and do not overload electrical outlets.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree to avoid electrocution.
  • Make sure outdoor lights are certified for outdoor use.
  • Turn lights off when you go to bed or leave the house.
  • Do not place candles next to flammable items such as curtains, furniture or decorations, and do no leave candles unattended. Keep matches and lighters out or reach of children.
  • Keep poisonous plants out of reach of children and pets including:  Mistletoe, Boston and English Ivy, and holly berries. If accidental ingestion occurs, call 1-800-222-1222.

 Kitchen

  • Keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of counters and tables where they can be easily knocked over by a young child.
  • Foods that require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Always thaw meat in the refrigerator, never on the countertop.

 Holiday Parties/Visits

  • Designate caregivers for babies and young children when you are involved with holiday activities such as cooking or hosting a party. Don’t assume your baby or young child is being supervised because she or he is in a room full of people. Consider hiring a babysitter when going to or hosting a party.
  • Keep small candies and nuts out of reach of young children as they pose a choking hazard.
  • Keep alcohol out of reach and thoroughly cleanse all drinking containers to avoid unintentional exposure to alcohol, which is poisonous to children.
  • Keep a laminated list of important phone numbers, including 911, the local police and fire departments, your pediatrician, the poison control center and nearby friends or family, where you or a babysitter can easily find them in case of emergency.
  • If you host a party, offer guests nonalcoholic beverages and help them find safe transportation if intoxicated. Never drink and drive.

 Toy Safety

  • When shopping for holiday gifts, select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Toys that are too advanced may pose safety hazards to young children.
  • For infants, toddlers, and all children who still put objects in or around their mouths, avoid toys with small parts that may pose a choking hazard.
  • Look for sturdy construction on plush toys, such as tightly secured eyes, noses and other small parts.
  • Avoid toys that have sharp edges and points, especially for children under age eight.
  • Do not purchase electric toys with heating elements for children under age eight.
  • Read product labels carefully, looking for age and safety recommendations to help guide your choices.
  • Read instructions for clarity.
  • Immediately discard plastic wrappings on toys as they can be a choking hazard or cause suffocation.
  • If purchasing a bicycle, scooter, in-line skates or skateboards, purchase the safety equipment that goes with it such as helmets, elbow and kneepads. Do not buy a helmet for the child to grow into. When properly fitted, the helmet should be level on the head, with the front edge no more than one inch above the eyebrows. The helmet should not move on the head. If you can move the helmet backwards, you need to shorten the front straps. If the helmet moves forward, shorten the back straps without changing the front straps.  The chinstrap should be tight enough that when opening the mouth widely, your child can feel the helmet push down against the top of the head.

The Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition has been working to prevent injuries in Lee County since 1995 under the auspices of the Lee County Health Department. Today the group is composed of more than 80 different health and safety agencies and experts. The coalition is a multi-disciplinary cooperative of private and public partners that include emergency medical services, fire and rescue agencies, law enforcement agencies, hospital outreach programs, health agencies, and public and private schools. This strong partnership provides increased resources, efficiency and consistent delivery of unified safety messages to the public. For more information, visit http://leecountyinjuryprevention.org/.