Holiday Safety Tips for the Kids & Pets

MUSC Health
November 19, 2020
A dog in a Christmas outfit playing with kids.

With the holidays around the corner, now is the time to begin thinking of measures to put in place that ensure everyone — from the kids to the pups – is safe during the festive period. It’s just as important as that homemade eggnog, or the traditional viewing of Miracle on 34th Street. To make sure you and your home are Griswold-proof, keep these tips in mind as you’re shopping for the perfect tree and lugging the holiday decor down from the attic.

1. Schedule a Wellness Visit

If your family hasn't gotten their wellness visit yet this season, now is the time to get that scheduled. Influenza's peak season is between December and February, so getting a flu vaccine for the kids (and the rest of the family) is crucial to keeping everyone as safe as possible this season.

2. Take Care with the Decor

From miniature nativity scenes to fragile ornaments, it's important to keep any choking hazards from the wee ones. A good rule of thumb: If it's small enough to pass through a cardboard toilet paper roll, it's small enough to be a hazard for both kids and pets. When it comes to particularly fragile decor, keep anything breakable on, for instance, a high shelf and out of harm’s way. And don’t forget to place fragile ornaments at the top of the tree and away from energetic kids (and wagging tails).

3. Make Sure the Tree is Merry

Rule number one in tree safety is to make sure it’s merry by watering it properly ― just make sure to follow the instructions based on the type of tree you take home. Trees can dry quickly, so commit to keeping them hydrated from the get-go to prevent a fire. Fire prevention also involves keeping the tree (alive or artificial) at least 48 inches away from an open flame, like candles or the fireplace. And don’t forget to get your gloves on (and maybe even long sleeves) when decorating — several types, like the Blue Spruce, can be a bit too prickly to handle with bare hands and arms. Gloves can also protect you from potential irritants from decorations.

4. Make Sure All is Bright (And Cords are Secured)

No one will ever beat the Griswolds but in any attempt to make your days merry and bright, be sure to secure any dangling cords with clips. Extension cords connected across the yard can be secured with stakes to prevent kids and grandparents alike from trips. And remember that stapling lights down can be dangerous too if a staple cuts into the electrical cord.

5. Play it Safe with Party Favors on New Year’s Eve

It’s easy to let your guard down when the season’s almost over but there are plenty of precautions for Dec. 31, too. Watch out for any party favors that could be considered choking hazards, and remember that any silly string should steer clear of open flames. And rethink the sparklers: the CDC warns that fireworks were involved in 10,000 injuries treated in the U.S. emergency rooms last year.

6. What About Fido

Oh and don't forget about your furry friends! While keeping small choking hazards and fragile decor away from your pets, be sure to watch for other things they could ingest. Don’t let things like grapes, raisins, onions, chocolate and garlic fall to the floor unnoticed — these are all toxic to dogs. Plants like mistletoe and poinsettia can cause pets nausea, diarrhea, tingling and burning of the mouth when eaten. And don’t let your pups and cats play with ribbon — this can be deadly if ingested.

About the Author

MUSC Health

Keywords: Family Medicine, Emergency Care, Wellness, Safety