With the holiday season upon us, Safe Kids
Canada, the national injury prevention program of The Hospital for Sick
Children (SickKids), reminds parents and caregivers about a few simple
precautions you can take to help keep children safe over the holidays:
1. Buying presents for kids on your list?
Pay attention to the age recommendations on toys. Toys meant for older
children may have small parts that a young child can choke on. For
children younger than three years old, do not choose toys with small
parts including toys with magnets. There have been several cases of
children having serious injuries and even one death, after swallowing
magnets that have come loose from the toys.
Make sure battery-operated toys are in good condition and that the
batteries are not accessible to children. If swallowed, button-type
batteries can cause internal chemical burns or poisoning.
For infants and toddlers, avoid toys with long strings or cords that
could lead to strangulation.
2. Think twice before gathering around the holiday fire.
Gas fireplaces are popular but children can easily burn their hands if
they touch the glass barrier at the front of the gas fireplace. The
fireplace glass can heat up to over 200C (400F) 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 glass barrier or touch it
for balance or out of curiosity. Install safety gates 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.
3. 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. Keep burning
candles out of your child’s reach and away from fabrics like curtains
and table cloths that could catch fire easily.
4. New TV for Christmas?
Be careful where you place it.
Over 100 children each year are injured when TV sets topple on them. In
some cases, children have pulled the TV sets onto themselves, while in
other cases, adults or other children have knocked them off the stands
onto children. In the majority of cases, the television was on a simple
stand or cart, while others were on wall units, shelving or dressers.
Keep your television on low, sturdy furniture and push the television 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.
5. Decorating the Christmas tree?
Avoid decorating the lower branches.
Young children are attracted to shiny, colourful things and may chew or
swallow decorations, lights, and tinsel.
6. 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
7. 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.
8. 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
9. Remember that injuries to children often happen when they are
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 holiday safety tips and child safety throughout the
year, parents can call-1-888-SAFE-TIPS (1-888-723-3847) or visit