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Avoid Decorating Dangers

In addition to food, family, and gifts, decorations are one of the highlights of the holiday season. While candles, Christmas trees, and other decorations are part of the holiday spirit, they can pose fire and poisoning hazards, especially to curious children.

The holidays are a time for spending with family and friends, not for rushing to the emergency room. Once all of your decorations are up, keep a close eye on both children and the decorations themselves.

Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season.

Follow some simple safety tips to protect your family and your home.

Safety Tip

Top Safety Tips

If you decorate a tree, avoid these top decorating mistakes:

  • Decorate with children in mind. Do not put ornaments that have small parts or metal hooks, or look like food or candy, on the lower branches where small children can reach them.
  • Trim protruding branches at or below a child’s eye level, and keep lights out of reach.
  • Natural trees always involve some risk of fire. To minimize the risk, get a fresh tree and keep it watered at all times. Do not put the tree within three feet of a fireplace, space heater, radiator or heat vent.
  • Never leave a lit tree or other decorative lighting display unattended.
  • Inspect lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections and broken sockets.
  • Do not overload extension cords or outlets and do not run an electrical cord under a rug.
  • Do not burn tree branches, treated wood or wrapping paper in a home fireplace.   

Top tips to prevent poisoning this holiday season:

  • Keep alcohol, including baking extracts, out of reach and do not leave alcoholic drinks unattended.
  • Color additives used in fireplace fires are a toxic product and should be stored out of reach.
  • Artificial snow can be harmful if inhaled, so use it in a well-vented space.
  • Mistletoe berries, Holly Berry and Jerusalem Cherry can be poisonous. If they are used in decorating, make sure children and pets cannot reach it.
  • In a poison emergency, call the national Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.

Don’t Toy With Safety

Naturally, you want your children to have a safe play environment with safe toys.  Did you know that in 2009, there were an estimated 181,900 toy-related injuries?  And that children under 5 accounted for nearly half of these injuries? 

Do your children like small play balls and balloons? These kinds of toys account for many choking deaths.  Do your children like riding toys – unpowered scooters or tricycles?  They are associated with more injuries than any other toy group; in fact half of the toy-related injuries treated in emergency rooms were caused by unpowered riding toys.  In addition to other hazards, any electrical toy is a potential burn hazard. 

Make sure your children play safely by following some simple safety tips.

Top Toy Safety Tips

  • Be sure your children play with toys that are age-appropriate.  Read the warning labels before buying toys for your children.
  • Look for well-made toys
  • Check toys regularly for damage that could create hazards.  Repair or discard damaged toys immediately.
  • Make sure that discarded toys are out of children’s reach.
  • Watch your children while they play.  Be aware of potential dangers like small parts, cords and strings, moving parts, electrical or battery-powered cords or wheels
  • Do not allow riding toys near stairs, traffic or swimming pools
  • Teach children to put toys away after playing.  Toys intended for younger children should be stored separately from those suitable for older children
  • Make sure toy chests are open (no lid) or have safety hinges.

Keep Your Children Safe in the Kitchen – Thanksgiving and Year Round

Did you know cooking fires are the #1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States, with unattended cooking on the stovetop the leading cause?  Not surprising, Thanksgiving Day has almost three times the daily average number of cooking fires.   In fact, Thanksgiving Day fires in residential structures cause more property damage and claim more lives than residential structure fires on other days.

Because young children may not recognize danger or may lack the ability to escape a life-threatening burn situation, parents need to take the necessary precautions to make sure their children are not exposed to items that may cause fires or burns.

Safe Kids New Jersey offers these safety tips to help parents keep their children safe in the kitchen on Thanksgiving and throughout the year.         

Prevent Cooking Fires

  • Never leave hot food or appliances unattended while cooking. If you are frying, grilling or broiling food stay in the kitchen.  If you are baking, boiling, or simmering food, check food frequently.
  • Always be alert when you are cooking.  If you are under the influence of medication or alcohol, avoid using the stove or stovetop.
  • Keep anything that can catch on fire at least 3 feet from the stove, toaster oven, or other heat source. 
  • Keep the stovetop, burners, and oven clean.
  • Do not wear loose fitting clothes when you are cooking as they may catch fire from the stovetop.

Prevent burns and scalds

  • To prevent hot food or liquid spills, use the stove’s back burner and/or turn pot handles away from the stove’s edge.
  • Keep appliance cords coiled, away from the counter edges and out of children’s reach, especially if the appliances contain hot foods or liquids. 
  • Use oven mitts or potholders when carrying hot food.
  • Open hot containers from the microwave slowly and away from your face.
  • Never use a wet oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if the moisture in the mitt is heated.

Keep Your Kids Safe

  • Create a 3 foot Kid Free Zone around the stove. Young children should be more than 3 feet from any place where there is hot food, drinks, pans or trays.
  • Never hold a child while cooking, carrying or drinking hot foods or liquids.
  • Hot foods and items should be kept from the edge of counters and tables.
  • Do not use a tablecloth or placemat if very young children are in the home.
  • When children are old enough, teach them to cook safely and always with help from an adult.

Did you remember to change your clocks & smoke alarm batteries?

When it’s time to “fall back” and change the clocks on Sunday, Nov. 7, make sure to check the batteries in all of your smoke alarms – it could save your life.

Did you know that having a working smoke alarm reduces a person’s chance of dying in a fire by half? For the best protection, install smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside every sleeping area, and in every bedroom. Smoke alarms should be mounted high on walls or ceilings, and tested monthly.

It’s important to replace smoke alarm batteries once a year, unless they’re 10-year lithium batteries. Even if your smoke alarms are hardwired, replace the batteries in case of a power outage.

To learn more, visit our Fire Safety page.

Running for Team Safe Kids New Jersey: Ali’s thoughts & perspective on completing his second marathon

Running a full marathon may seem like an individual accomplishment, but when you’re a part of something like Safe Kids, you are no longer alone on the road. That’s certainly how it felt throughout the week leading up to the race as well as on race day itself.

 If you’ve ever been on a field trip as a child and got worried because your parents weren’t there – but were relieved when you saw the care and focus that you’re caretakers provided – well that’s how it felt on Sunday October 31st! As a dad who’s always looking after details like food, transportation, full tank of gas, spending cash, passports, visa’s, luggage, etc., it was so nice to know that I had a team behind me who was able to help with these details. It made me feel like a kid again, at least for this one day.

Dan Orzechowski and Allison Murphy, Safe Kids USA, looked after every detail to ensure that runners could maintain their focus on the challenge in front of them. From picking up race kits to supplying Metro passes to the runners, Dan and Allison handled it all. On the morning of the race, Carma Hanson, Coordinator, Safe Kids Grand Forks, ND, managed the process of getting us from the hotel to the starting line – right down to bagels and peanut butter for breakfast!!

The morning was pretty chilly and we wanted to get to the race sight at least an hour before the start. All us runners huddled under a big tent and got to know one another. I could tell that each runner was committed to finishing for the sake of the cause. There was no nervousness, no pre-race jitters – just pure courage fueled by knowing why you’re running.

The Marine Corp Marathon is known as the People’s Marathon. The streets are lined with supporters. At no point during the 26.2 mile course are you alone as runners. Supporters stand on the side of narrow bridges just to cheer you on. Of course I wore the Safe Kids t-shirt that was folded and placed in my race kit for me. As I ran by people, especially those with their children in tow, I could see their approval. Many would yell out “Go Safe Kids!!!”, and several reached out for a high-five. There are a lot of charities and other causes being represented by runners in the Marine Corp Marathon, but for me, the support I receive from all the contributing members of Safe Kids have always made me feel directly connected to the cause.

I am looking forward to doing it again next year!!

~ Ali A. Zaidi