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Holiday Season a Risk for Child Injuries

The holiday season marks a festive time for families to get together and celebrate. It is a time cherished by many children and their parents. It is also a time when injuries to children are commonplace, as they may be introduced to dangerous items, choking hazards and other threats. To ensure that you have a safe and joyful holiday season, take a moment to consider the things you can do to protect your children from harm.

Childproofing can seem like an impossible task for the parents of an active toddler. Sometimes it can feel like your children are on a mission to run into every sharp-edged corner, break every piece of glass and place every small object available into their mouths. The problems are only made worse when taking your children to friends' or relatives' homes. People without small children generally do not consider the hazards posed by holiday items.

The most common objects that can lead to harm are exposed candles, glass decorations, hard candy, ribbon, and the worst offender of all, the Christmas tree. A Christmas tree can contain almost every major threat of child injury all wrapped up in one package. Ornaments, tinsel and lights are often a colorful and therefore tempting choking hazard. Trees are heavy and can easily be toppled to crush a child. The lights can electrocute a child with one bite. Glass bulbs can be broken into a handful of razor sharp edges.

In addition to the dangers of decorations, parents should be on the lookout for dangerous or defective toys. If heavy objects, such as televisions, have been moved to make room for the tree or for guests, they can be unstable and present an additional risk of crushing a child. Holiday gatherings generally include lavish meals and an opportunity to catch up with family you don't see every day. The temptation to become distracted and to assume someone is watching your child can be overwhelming. By taking the time to check your surroundings and see to the health and safety of your child, you can avoid a potential tragedy and enjoy a happy holiday season.

Source: Medill Reports, by Natalie Brunell and Zack Aldrich, 16 November 2011

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