There is nothing like a trip to the ER to put a damper on your holiday festivities. Garry Gardner, M.D., chairperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics's Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, tells how to childproof the season, one area at a time:
The Tree: Christmas trees are a tip-over risk, so either secure yours to a wall (with an eye hook and twine) or block it off with a safety gate. Try not to place ornaments or string lights on the bottom portion of the tree, where toddlers can reach them. "Every year I see a child who has taken a bite of an ornament," notes Dr. Gardner.
Decorations: If you light candles for Hanukkah, or just like the glow or scent they provide, keep them well out of reach. Pass on tablecloths, too - little kids love to yank them down, sending glasses, silverware, hot food, and possibly those candles flying. You can say yes to poinsettias - they're not poisonous, as is commonly believed, although mistletoe berries are. Still, it's a good idea to keep all flowers and greenery out of reach.
Presents: Wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows can be choking and suffocation hazards. Also watch out for packaging parts - like foam peanuts and those twist ties used to strap dolls and action figures to their backing as if they were about to undergo root canals with no anesthetic.
The Kitchen: "Burns and scalds are a major holiday hazard," reports Dr. Gardner, so be extra cautious when cooking, entertaining, and carrying hot foods or liquids from one room to another.