Preventing Holiday Hazards

by Michelle Lee

Preventing Holiday Hazards

You make sure that your home's childproof—and then along come the holidays. Small ornaments, plants, candies, and candles can all become safety hazards. To help protect your kids:


  • Place chokables out of reach.

    Put bowls of hard candies and nuts up high, out of sight.


  • Secure your tree.

    Use a wide-based stand to make sure it won't topple over, and cut lower branches so that eyes won't get poked. Tuck away electrical cords where they can't be grabbed or tripped over. Hang ornaments with metal hooks on high branches, and consider skipping fragile, easily shattered ornaments and lights for a few years. Keep the tree away from fire hazards—fireplaces, candles, overhead lights and heaters.


  • Check your child's presents.

    Watch out for gifts with small, removable parts; sharp edges; and strings or cords longer than seven inches, a strangulation risk.


  • Never leave candles unattended.

    If you're lighting a menorah, place it on a steady, high surface.


  • Take care with dangerous plants.

    Mistletoe, holly, Christmas rose, and Jerusalem cherry are all poisonous, so be sure they're far from kids. "Poinsettias aren't poisonous, but they can cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal distress if they're eaten," says Debra Holtzman, author of The Panic-Proof Parent: Creating a Safe Lifestyle for Your Family. "They can also make pets sick."


  • Stay on your guard.

    When you visit friends or relatives, there's no need to ask them to childproof their homes, but check that medications and household cleaners are out of reach. Look around so you know where any hazards might be hiding.