Holiday decorations can contain hidden dangers for young children HOWARD COUNTY HEALTH

December 08, 1992|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

With the holidays approaching, families with small children should take extra care to safeguard their homes against possible accidents.

The Howard County General Hospital is offering a Child Safe Program tomorrow for parents, grandparents, early childhood educators and child care providers.

The 2 1/2 -hour class focuses on accident prevention and emergency intervention, especially during Christmas and Hanukkah.

"It's a very stressful time," said Sarah Sherman, education specialist for Howard County General Hospital. "People are busier than usual and they're not watching the kids as carefully."

With Christmas trees, lights, candles, trimmings, and fires, a home can become more prone to accidents, Ms. Sherman said.

"The setting is there for more accidents to happen," she said.

Below are a number of tips for a safe holiday season:

* Substitute garland for tinsel. Children are attracted to bright, colorful objects and could choke on the glittery tinsel, Ms. Sherman said.

* Place a collapsible playpen around the Christmas tree to prevent small children from touching it.

* Hang small or fragile ornaments high on the tree.

* Hang some items around the house for children to play with, "so it's not 'no, no' all the time," Ms. Sherman said.

* Keep liquid-filled "bubbling" lights away from children. Such lights are dangerous because their bright colors and movement can tempt children to break the candle-shaped glass, which contains a hazardous chemical.

* Tape tablecloth corners underneath the table to prevent children from pulling on them.

"People don't think about it, but it's really dangerous," Ms. Sherman said.

* When guests arrive, put away their pocketbooks, which could contain coins and medications that children could choke on.

* For older adults, select gifts that are not heavy or awkward to handle.

For arthritic people, make sure the gift does not require assembly, and can be easily opened and closed. Select books with large type for anyone with vision impairment.

* Plants. Many plants can cause severe stomach problems; watch out for mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry, amaryllis, and poinsettias.

In case of an emergency, call the Maryland Poison Center at (800) 492-2414.

For more information on child safety programs, call Howard County General Hospital at 740-7890.

The course fee is $18 per person or $30 per couple.

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