Tips for making the holidays safe for kids

happy holidaysA bit of extra caution can help prevent unpleasant holiday surprises.

Toys, treats and lights can all add to the joy of the holiday season—if they’re used safely.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these holiday safety tips:

Choose toys carefully. Make sure the toys you buy for your kids are age-appropriate. Children younger than 3 can choke on parts 1 3/4 inches wide or smaller. Children younger than 8 can choke on uninflated or broken balloons. Babies can be strangled by strings that are more than a foot long.

Cook with care. Handle all holiday foods safely to prevent foodborne illness. Cook meats and poultry fully and wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Separate raw and cooked foods and use different utensils to handle them. Wash your hands often. Don’t leave foods that need to be refrigerated out for more than two hours.

Be fire safe. Put smoke detectors on every level of your house and outside bedrooms. Test them regularly. Replace frayed electric cords and don’t run cords under carpets. Use your fireplace only when you’re home and awake. Use a sturdy fireplace screen to hold in sparks that could ignite carpets, upholstery or curtains.

Party smart. If you take your kids to a party, remember the hosts’ house may not be childproof. Keep an eye out for hazards. If you leave the kids with a babysitter, make sure the babysitter knows how to reach you, the police and fire departments, your pediatrician and the poison control center.

If you host a party, clean up before you go to bed. Your child could wake up before you do and choke on leftover food.

For more information on holiday and winter safety, visit these sites:

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