To Grandmother’s House We Go: Keeping Holidays Safe for Kids
Considered by many the official launch of the holiday season, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of gatherings highlighted by family, friends, and feasts. And with so many loved ones milling about—crowding kitchens, sipping wine, and getting caught up in the holiday cheer—it’s not uncommon for the littlest guests to sneak off and find their way into trouble.
Pediatrician Dr. Anne Brayer, who directs the local Injury Free Coalition for Kids chapter, says too many toddlers suffer injuries while visiting grandparents, or while at holiday gatherings where their parents are otherwise distracted.
Here are a few tips for keeping curious little fingers from finding danger, especially in homes that aren’t child-proofed:
Scan the room. Before settling in to the fun with friends and family, scope out the kids’ setting. Before the munchkins toddle off, be sure there are no open outlets, electric cords, or easy-to-swallow items in reach. Pay special attention to pointy-edged coffee tables, wall corners that jut out, or any other sharp objects an infant could bump her head on. And watch out for cabinets in kitchens, bathrooms, and other places that might hold cleaning supplies.
Line up a grown-up. Well-meaning cousins or other youngsters might not recognize potentially risky situations, so don’t leave little ones without an adult. It’s easy for kids to get so carried away in amusing one another, they forget to make babies’ and toddlers’ safety their first priority.
Don’t let the fur fly. Little ones might be tempted to grab Fluffy’s tail, or even try to climb Fido, causing some pets to lash out. Dog bites are especially problematic this time of year, since many dogs aren’t used to toddlers horsing around the house. Even subdued pets can easily knock over little ones.
No one wants to spoil a holiday with a trip to the emergency room (or worse, carry the guilt of having a little guest injured at their house). While it may seem cumbersome to pay extra attention to youngsters and prepare the house for their arrival, make the effort! It’s time well-spent.
Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season!
Anne Brayer, M.D.
is a professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine and pediatric emergency room physician at Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Brayer is the director of the Injury Free Coalition, Rochester chapter, which aims to reduce childhood injuries. Nothing would make her happier than making her job of treating children for avoidable injuries obsolete.