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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.

Fireworks Are Not Child’s Play

Summer memories often include lighting sparklers and watching fireworks during 4th of July celebrations, however, hundreds of children are injured from fireworks each summer. 

Fireworks can cause serious burn and eye injuries. In 2009, 3,300 children ages 0-14 were injured from fireworks. Of these injuries, 70% occurred in the weeks surrounding July 4th.

The safest choice to leave is to leave fireworks to be used by professionals. 

  • Children should never play with or light fireworks or sparklers.
  • Adults who use fireworks should not use them around children.

How much do you know about fireworks safety? Take the Safe Kids firework safety quiz: http://www.safekids.org/safety-basics/safety-spotlight/fireworks-safety/fireworks-safety-quiz.html

Safe Kids New Jersey wishes all parents and children a safe 4th of July!

Toy Safety for the Holidays

The holiday season is here and for many kids that means one thing: toys. While parents are on a mad-dash to scoop up the hottest toys, safety should be at the top of their wish lists. Each year, an estimated 169,300 toy-related injuries in children ages 14 years and younger are treated in hospital emergency rooms across the United States.

With the new federal toy safety standards, passed by Congress and in place this year, parents can be reassured that the vast majority of toys on store shelves are safe. Despite the increase in safety however, Safe Kids New Jersey urges parents to remain cautious.

Right now parents and caregivers are in the middle of the country’s busiest toy-buying season (approximately 50 percent of all toy purchases in the United States occur between the Friday after Thanksgiving and Christmas) and the new safety standards allow them to shop with more confidence than ever.  However, it doesn’t mean we should throw caution to the wind. Shoppers should still make sure they are buying age appropriate toys and following important toy safety guidelines. The Consumer Product Safety Commission should continue to monitor the marketplace to ensure that toys comply with these standards.

Top five tips for making sure children’s toys are safe during this holiday season: 

  • Before shopping for toys, consider the child’s age, interest and skill level. A fun, but inappropriate toy for a particular child can be dangerous.
  • Make sure toys intended for older children are stored separately from those for younger children.
  • Keep toys with small parts away from children under age 3. They can choke on small toys and toy parts.
  • Check regularly for damage that could create small pieces that are choking hazards. Make any necessary repairs immediately, or discard damaged toys out of the reach of children.
  • Actively supervise children when they are playing with riding toys as well as any toy that has small balls and small parts, magnets, electrical or battery power, cords and strings, wheels or any other potential hazard. Simply being in the same room as your child is not necessarily supervising. Active supervision means keeping the child in sight and in reach while paying undivided attention.

To stay informed about harmful products in the marketplace, parents can go to http://www.recalls.gov/ and sign up for email alerts on recalled children’s products. It’s too difficult to get your information piecemeal from TV or the newspaper, so if you get the emails sent to you each time a recall happens, you’ll know right away which products to avoid. 

Safe Kids New Jersey reminds parents that most toys are safe, especially if you buy from a reputable retailer.  That doesn’t mean you have to go to a ‘big box’ store.  But if you shop at a locally-owned toy store, make sure that the owner is aware and vigilant about getting recalled items off the shelves. 

If secondhand toys are purchased, or received from friends or relatives, Safe Kids New Jersey advises parents to visit http://www.cpsc.gov/ and make sure the toy hasn’t been recalled for safety reasons. Used toys should also be in good condition with all original parts and packaging, if possible. If a new toy comes with a product registration card, mail it in right away so the manufacturer can contact you if the item is ever recalled. 

For more information about toy safety visit http://www.usa.safekids.org/ and http://www.cpsc.gov/.

Top Decorating Mistakes to Avoid this Holiday Season

The holidays are a time for spending with family and friends, not rushing to the emergency room. Following a few important safety tips can help keep your holidays injury-free. 

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. Once all of your decorations are up, keeping a close eye on both children and the decorations themselves is an important step to a safe holiday season.

Never, never leave lit candles unattended. In 2005, candles started 15,600 home fires in the United States, and the top four days for candle fires are around Christmas and New Year’s, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Do not put candles on a tree or a natural wreath, or near curtains or drapes, and keep matches and lighters locked out of children’s reach. Using battery-operated flameless candles is an alternative that does not pose a fire risk. If you would like decorative lighting, make sure it is labeled with the seal of an independent testing lab, and only use it outdoors if it’s labeled for outdoor use.

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 Christmas 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 Christmas 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 Christmas 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.

For more information about holiday safety visit the fire and poisoning prevention pages at http://www.usa.safekids.org/.

Remember Kitchen Safety for the Upcoming Holiday Season

As the holiday season approaches, it is important for parents and caregivers to remember to check the kitchen for preventable hazards and to supervise children at all times in the kitchen. 

It’s important to keep cabinets closed and locked, and to store hazardous substances out of reach, but that’s not enough. The most important safety precaution in the kitchen is constant, close and attentive supervision. Simply being in the same room as a child is not necessarily supervising. An actively supervised child is in sight and in reach at all times.

Burns — from spills, steam, hot surfaces and flame — can be especially devastating injuries.  Because young children have thinner skin than adults, they burn more severely and at lower temperatures.

Scald burns from hot liquid or steam are the most common type of burns among children ages 4 and under. A child will suffer a full-thickness burn (third-degree burn) after just three seconds of exposure to 140-degree water, and will need surgery and skin grafts.

Safe Kids recommends these precautions against kitchen burns:

  • Never leave a hot stove unattended. (Unattended food on the stove is the number one cause of home fires.)
  • Never hold a child while cooking or carrying hot items.
  • Cook on back burners whenever possible, and turn all handles toward the back of the stove. 
  • Don’t allow loose-fitting clothing in the kitchen.
  • Keep hot foods and liquids away from the edges of counters and tables. Be especially careful around tablecloths — children can pull hot dishes down onto themselves.
  • Tie up electrical cords of small appliances. A toddler playing with a dangling cord can pull a toaster or microwave down from a countertop.

In addition to hot surfaces, hot liquids and sharp objects, the other major hazard in the kitchen is poison. Store potentially hazardous goods, such as cleaning products and alcohol, in locked cabinets out of reach. Also, install a carbon monoxide detector to alert everyone to get out of the house in the event of a buildup of the odorless toxic gas given off by fuel-burning appliances.

Children who can follow directions may be ready to help out in the kitchen with tasks that do not involve knives, appliances or heat. You know your own children. Don’t give them knives or let them handle anything hot until they have shown the maturity and coordination to do it safely.  Some children mature faster than others, so it’s up to parents to use good judgment about each child’s capabilities.