Extra precautions needed to keep children safe during holidays

Parents should take precautions during the holidays to keep children away from potential hazards, advises a local health care provider and Phoenix Children's Hospital.

Amidst the merriment and festivities of the holidays, parents should be especially vigilant of young children and "childproof" their home, according to Milda Rogers, certified family nurse practitioner, of Cerbat Medical Center in Kingman.

Rogers offers the following tips to keep little ones safe:

• Keep tinsel away from toddlers.

Children are attracted to it and could swallow it.

• Be sure to have a bulb in every light socket on the tree, because toddlers could stick little, wet fingers in an empty socket.

• Unplug lights on the tree when no one is near.

• Make sure small ornaments are up high, out of the reach of small children.

• Make sure toys and gifts are age-appropriate, and watch toddlers when older children get toys and games with small pieces that toddlers could put in their mouth and choke on.

• Put decorations up high and make sure electric cords are tapped or tied down and hidden,

• Toddlers put everything in their mouth, so make sure small candies or ornaments are out of infant's reach.

• A draped tablecloth could be pulled by an infant.

Attach a tablecloth to the legs of the table, or tuck under the table.

• Keep water in the Christmas tree stand.

Don't let it dry out.

It could present a fire hazard.

To keep little ones happy Rogers suggests reading "happy little Christmas stories," to them.

Jeffrey Weiss, MD, director of the Injury Prevention Center at Phoenix Children's Hospital said, "the risk of poisoning of children under the age of five is high during the holiday season."

"Parties, visitors, decorative plants and holiday decorations all present potential poisoning hazards," Weiss said.

Phoenix Children's Hospital treats more children than any other hospital in Arizona.

The Injury Prevention Center at Phoenix Children's Hospital is dedicated to decreasing childhood injuries and deaths, according to information from the hospital.

Weiss stated that children copy adult behaviors, have no sense of danger and are curious about their surroundings as parents bring out boxes of decorations for the house and tree.

Alcoholic beverages, perfumes, after-shave lotions and even flavoring extracts used in baking can be harmful to young children, he added.

As little as one half ounce of rum can cause serious injury or death in small children.

Glasses and cans of alcoholic beverages should be emptied immediately after guests leave a party, Weiss said.

In addition, decorative plants are bright and children are drawn to them.

Holly berries, mistletoe, yew evergreen berries and azalea are poisonous.

"Keep holiday plants out of reach of little hands and do not leave gift items under a tree or within reach of young children," he said.

Holiday decorations such as ornaments, tinsel and wrapping paper may be painted or colored with paints or inks made with lead, according to information from the hospital.

Holiday visitors, such as grandparents, may bring medicines and vitamins into the home.

These items are often stored in purses or suitcases.

Offer visitors a locked cabinet to store their medicines and vitamins, Weiss said.

Keep the number of the poison control center - (800) 362-0101 - close to the phone.