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December 15, 2005

Holiday safety tips from Safe Kids Canada

TORONTO - With the holidays fast approaching, Safe Kids Canada, the national injury prevention program of The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), wants to remind parents and caregivers about some of the dangers at home for children during the holiday season. Here are a few simple precautions you can take to help keep children safe over the holidays:

Think twice before gathering around the holiday fire.

Gas fireplaces are popular but children can easily burn their hands and fingers from contact with the glass barrier at the front of the gas fireplace. The fireplace glass can heat up to over 200 ° C (400 ° F) in about six minutes and takes an average of 45 minutes for the fireplace to cool to a safe temperature after a burning fire has been extinguished. Burns happen when toddlers fall towards the gas fireplace barrier or touch the glass for balance or out of curiosity. Safety gates should be installed to keep your child at a safe distance at all times. Consider not using the fireplace if you have young children, using it only after your children have gone to sleep, or turn the unit off completely, including the pilot flame, whenever the unit is not in use.

Make sure all holiday lights and electrical cords are in good repair and out of children's reach.

Each year, doctors at SickKids see children who have suffered electrical burns from touching hot bulbs or putting them into their mouths. Others have bitten electrical cords and required plastic surgery.

New TV for Christmas? Be careful where you place it.

Each year, 100 children are injured when TV sets topple on them. In the majority of cases , the television was on a simple stand or cart, while others were on wall units,

shelving or dressers. To prevent injuries, keep your television on low, sturdy furniture and push it as far back on the furniture as possible. Keep your TV cords behind the furniture, where children cannot reach them. When possible, use anchors, angle-braces, or furniture straps to secure furniture to the wall.

Don't decorate the lower branches of a Christmas tree.

Young children are attracted to shiny, colourful things and may chew or swallow Christmas decorations, lights, and tinsel.

Keep burning candles in sturdy candle holders and don't leave them on tablecloths or decorative fabric.

A toddler may touch or topple the candles, which could lead to a severe burn or start a fire .

Keep holiday plants out of reach.

Mistletoe and Holly are poisonous and can cause stomach upset. If a child eats any of the berries, call the local poison information center in your area. The Ontario Regional Poison Centre at SickKids can be reached at 416-813-5900 or toll free outside of Toronto at 1-800-268-9017. Poinsettias, contrary to popular belief, are not highly poisonous.

Choose gifts and toys that are age appropriate and in good condition.

Toys meant for older children may have small parts that a young child can choke on. For infants and toddlers, avoid toys with long strings or cords that could lead to strangulation if played with unsupervised in a crib or playpen. Make sure battery-operated toys are in good condition. If swallowed, button-type batteries can cause internal chemical burns or poisoning.

When entertaining, keep visitors' purses and bags out of reach.

Little fingers will explore and a child may swallow any medications or cosmetics found or play with matches.

Be sure to use appropriate car seats, booster seats and seat belts for your children during holiday driving.

Exercise road safety with extra caution during the holidays as there may be heavy traffic, poor weather, and the possibility of alcohol use by other drivers.

Remember that injuries to children often happen when they are unsupervised.

Keep in mind that homes you are visiting during the holidays may not be childproofed the way you have made your own home safe. At parties, be sure someone is designated to watch out for young children.

For more information on child safety, parents can call-1-888-SAFE-TIPS (1-888-723-3847) or visit www.safekidscanada.ca .

For more information, please contact:

Media Contact
Public Affairs
The Hospital for Sick Children
Phone: 416-813-6380
Fax: 416-813-5328