FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 21, 2003
CONEY ISLAND HOSPITAL OFFERS TIPS FOR MAKING THE HOLIDAYS SAFE FOR CHILDREN
Hospital Identifies 4 Holiday Hazards
This is the time of year when everyone is looking forward to the holidays and family celebrations. But the holidays, complete with cooking, decorating, visiting and gift-giving, can pose certain risks for children. Warren Seigel, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Coney Island Hospital wants parents to be aware of potential holiday hazards and offers these tips to help children stay safe and avoid injuries during the upcoming holiday seasons.
Choking is the most common cause of death in children under the age of one year, killing approximately 300 youngsters annually. Dr. Seigel offers the following recommendations:
• Keep such common holiday fare as nuts, hard candy, chunks of meat, raw carrots and other crudités, peanut butter, popcorn and other snacks away from very young children since they cannot chew them.
• Only buy toys that are appropriate for the child’s age. Pay attention to toy labels that say “not recommended for children under 3 years of age” because these often contain small parts that can be swallowed.
• Keep such common household objects and holiday items as ribbons, tags, gift wrap, earrings, rings, pens, paper clips, safety pins, nails and screws out of reach of children under four years of age (no matter how many little budding Martha Stewarts and Bob The Builders you may have.)
Dr. Seigel offers these tips when it comes to potential poisons:
• Common holiday plants such as mistletoe, holly, poinsettias and Jerusalem cherry plants are poisonous and should be kept out of children’s reach. Eating poisonous plants may cause rashes, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If you suspect poisoning, call your local doctor, or the Poison Control Center at 1-800-POISONS. (Many of these holiday plants may also be harmful to pets, so check with your vet.)
• Alcohol poisoning is also a problem for children during the holidays. Keep an eye on children during holiday parties when alcohol is being served. Pick up or put away all empty and partially empty cups and liquor and wine bottles as soon as possible.
Fire is a real hazard during this season. According to Dr. Seigel:
• Keep candles away from flammable items such as curtains, pillows and carpets. It only takes a minute for a spark from a candle to burst into flames. Never leave the house or room with candles burning. Extinguish all candles every night before bedtime.
• Keep lights and trees secured well or in a sturdy stand so that they do not fall, or are accidentally knocked over by children or pets. Do not overload indoor or outdoor electrical outlets. Circuits that are overloaded with lights and other decorations can start a fire.
• Check smoke detectors to make sure they are in working order.
• The holidays may not be complete without a holiday feast, but cooking increases the opportunities for burns and scaldings. Keep pot handles turned away from the front of the stove and always keep the oven door closed. Invest in child-proof oven handles and watch children closely when baking or cooking to prevent injuries.
Finally, keep an eye on toys. Dr. Seigel offers the following recommendations:
• Toys such as bicycles, skateboards, in-line skates and sleds are popular gifts for children, but may lead to serious injuries if used improperly. Safety gear such as helmets, kneepads, elbow guards, etc. is recommended when giving these toys as gifts.
• Always read instructions carefully before having your child play with any new toy and monitor your children’s play, especially if the toy involves a science experiment, crafts, or electrical parts such as train sets.
“The holidays are a special time for families and especially for children,” said Dr. Seigel. “As parents, our job is to keep them safe as well as happy this season.”