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Eat, Drink, and be Merry (The Safe Way)

12/14/2001:   Terrorists. Anthrax. Osama bin Laden. It's quite a different world we are living in this holiday season. But with our attention focused on these major threats, let's not forget the little things that can also be dangerous to our children.

According to The National Safe Kids Campaign (www.safekids.org), 6,300 children die each year from unintentional injuries, and 14 million 1 out of 4 are injured seriously enough to require medical attention. Falls and choking account for the majority of toy-related deaths and injuries, with children ages 4 and under accounting for 60 percent of toy-related injuries and 75 percent of deaths.

Every year hundreds of hazardous toys are pulled from shelves, often without consumer knowledge. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) maintains an updated list of recalled toys and children's products, available at www.cpsc.gov. In addition, CPSC offers these tips for choosing appropriate toys:
  • Select toys to suit the age, abilities, and skill level of the intended child.
  • For infants and toddlers, avoid toys with small parts that could pose a fatal choking hazard.
  • Look for sturdy construction, such as tightly secured eyes, noses, and other small parts.
  • Do not purchase electric toys with heating elements for children under 8.
  • Read Labels! Look for labels that give age recommendations and use that as a guide.
  • Immediately discard plastic wrappings on toys that can cause suffocation.

Holiday parties are another venue where children can get into trouble. According to WebMD (www.webmd.com), the biggest overlooked hazard at holiday parties is alcohol. Colorful and sweet drinks might tempt children while the adults are busy tending to their guests. Also, poinsettias and holly can cause significant danger if ingested by children. For more information on these and other poisonous hazards, visit the American Association of Poison Control Centers at www.aapc.org.

WebMD offers these helpful holiday party tips:
  • Many holiday decorations can pose a choking hazard to small children, keep everything out of reach.
  • Popular holiday plants and aromatic oils can be toxic if ingested by children.
  • Watch out for alcohol. Only a small amount is necessary to cause alcohol poisoning in children.
  • Clean up before going to bed. One hidden source of alcohol poisoning is post-party residues left in glasses and ingested the next morning by early-rising children.
  • Among large crowds at holiday celebrations, a single adult should be charged with watching the children.

With a lot of planning, and a little common sense, our children can have a happy and safe holiday season.

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