“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” plays on the radio on December 1st, marking that the festive music playlist will be on from now through to the 25th and another Christmas is here. Alike many before it, the year’s must-have toys have been predicted by experts from the retail industry and many a child will have written to Saint Nick asking for it to be under their tree while promising they have been an extra special good boy or girl this year.But what if the gift under the tree makes them ill?
Cheaper knock-off imitation products, that haven’t been made to strict European standards, can flood the market in the build up to Christmas and pose a real risk to the well-being of families.And this is why, every year, we run the #12DaysOfSafety campaign – to try and warn parents and carers of under 5s about the risks that they could unwillingly be bringing into their homes. But it’s not just gifts that pose a risk around the home as decorations can also be a threat to under 5s.
General reminders about best practice and safety messages are also required as it’s a time when we know adults are busy trying to make memories and create the best-ever Christmas celebrations.
You may be a real-tree only type of person. Or the thought of all those needles over your floor could be too much for you to cope with, so a good quality imitation tree may come out of storage every year. While the video above is specifically about real trees, the placement of live naked-flames is still an important message to remember! The consequences of a wrong choice can be, clearly, devastating.
Decorations can be another fire-risk. We’ve warned in previous versions of #12DaysOfSafety about the need to check the wiring of all festive lights you may have as protective casing can become damaged and become ineffective over time. Do you remember when you last purchased the decorations?
Safety laws and best practice have advanced quickly, as has the technology which protects electrical goods from overheating or failing. Having this hidden protection in your lights can be the difference between having a memorable and safe Christmas for all the right reasons – or not. Maybe you should make 2018 the year in which you buy new lights and decorations to ensure everything is as safe as can be in your home? Please also remember that novelty decorations don’t have to comply with any toy safety standards, so make sure these are well away from any naked flames or out of the reach of smaller children.
So the tree is up, decorations are in place and your home looks and feels like a winter wonderland! But is your home safe for Santa? Getting a chimney sweep in can be great to tell your kids that you need it clean for Father Christmas to make his way down – but also a great way of ensuring your family are safe if you decided to light a winter warming fire. As always, today is a great day to test your smoke alarms as well. Make today the day some general ‘elf and safety is carried out around the home. With the inclusion of decorations in various rooms, it could be a great time to see things once again from your child’s point of view. Get down to the floor and see things from their height! Can they reach that candle? Would you know what to do to try and stop a child from choking? Luckily, we’ve got a great video to share with you that gives you all the skills you need.
Button batteries during this time of the year will be everywhere and in everything – or at least it may feel like that!
These tiny cells of energy are extremely powerful and can be very dangerous if swallowed by your child. Young children learn by putting most things in their mouths that they get their little hands on.
One of these button batteries can cause serious internal burns to your child – so our advice is DO NOT leave them lying around at Christmas, or any other time.
Other batteries and general electrical safety is the focus of our advice for today’s day in the #12DaysOfSafety campaign.
Rechargeable batteries – These items are great but need ventilation and can become dangerous if overcharged. Always use the correct charger that the device came with. The protective technology in mobile phone chargers may be weaker than that in the charger for your tablet – despite it being made by the same manufacturer and the ends fitting in both mobile and tablet.
- Do not be tempted to buy cheaper mobile chargers. Only use chargers sold by the same manufacturer as your device. A recent story on fake Apple chargers here states that 99% of fakes failed basic tests!
- Don’t charge devices overnight. It’s tempting, but if a fault occurred you wouldn’t be awake to know about it!
- Use caution if buying anything from social media sites. A total of 60% of fake goods were purchased online through social media.
- Discarding batteries once they get too hot during charging or start leaking – this is a sign that the cell has reached the end of its life.
- Do not remove batteries from smoke alarms or other safety devices to then use in toys. Buy the batteries for the toys and make sure your family stays safe at Christmas.
Finally, the poster below from Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue contains a link for more advice from the fire service regarding electrical safety.
Fake goods can be a major risk in the run up to Christmas. From chargers for tablets and phones, to fake toys our advice to parents and carers of under 5s is to be a savvy shopper and do research about a product before you buy. The expensive components that protect the device being charged will likely not be in a cheaper fake charger.
Also make sure the item is suitable for your child’s age. The warnings on toys that says ‘not suitable for under 3s’ is there for a reason and should be respected and followed. A recent study carried out by Trading Standards across the UK revealed some alarming facts about slime that is also one of the most have toys in 2018s Christmas list. Slime kits or products that have been made to EU standards will be safe for use, but some of the imported goods that are cheaper and could be used as stocking fillers are not safe. The slime made from outside the EU was found to contain excessive and unsafe levels of boron – which can cause sickness and skin rashes in young children.
Our advice is, quite simply, don’t buy the cheaper versions.
- Cheap toys are not made to the same strict standards that official products from the movies/television shows are.
- Respect the age limits placed on toys. They are there for a very good reason and have been tested by experts. A toy that says it is not for the use of anyone under the age of 3 could mean that small parts pose a threat to your child’s wellbeing if they were to swallow or choke on them. Supervision of your child is vital when playing with a new toy.
- Beware of choking hazards to young children around your home at Christmas. This can be anything such as burst balloons, small toy parts and tree decorations.
Finally, when buying gifts for your children don’t be afraid of opening boxes to make sure there are no small parts that can be removed by them.
Despite being Winter, the chance of your child getting burned is incredibly high if you do not take precautions. The kitchen is a hive of activity during Christmas with ovens always seeming to be cooking something, and pans of water boiling for hours on end as Christmas puddings are steamed to perfection. While it may be obvious to some, keep your young children out of the kitchen!
- Keep little ones out of the kitchen while Christmas dinner is being cooked to avoid hot fat, boiling water and sharp knives! Also, when it comes to serving the food, remember to not pass hot food around the dinner table as it could fall out of your hand and badly burn your child.
- Check out our sections on this site regarding burns as a lot of the information we have provided about hot drinks, food and cooking applies to this time of the year.
- If you’re straightening your hair, or have a hairdryer on, be sure to place them somewhere that is out of reach for your child. Straighteners heat to 230°c and can take up to 30 minutes to cool down.
Remember, a child aged under 5 has skin 15 times thinner than an adult. Encourage them to learn that the kitchen, when someone is cooking, is not a place they should be!
About six weeks ago we warned about the dangers that can be installed around your home in the name of Halloween. The same advice can be applied to Christmas as shops stock various fancy dress options for young children and candles can be lit around the home – particularly as part of the Advent Wreath.
With the amount of hot ovens, food, drinks, and other heat sources that are around the home during Christmas it can be a good idea to refresh your knowledge of burns treatment. In cases of emergency cool the burn with running cold tap water for 20 minutes and remove all clothing and jewellery in the area. Call for help. Dial 999. 111 or a local GP for advice. Finally cover with cling film or a sterile, non-fluffy, dressing or cloth. Also make sure the person is kept warm.
The number one cause of accidents around the home according to the latest injury statistics, for under 5s, is falling. However, there is a really easy way of stopping these falls – supervision. If your child is learning to walk up and down the stairs, be there every small step that they take. Encourage and educate young children to not jump off, or climb up, furniture. Take extra care when you are carrying small children around the home at Christmas as there can be items or decorations around your floor space that could trip you up and cause you child to fall.
If you’re extremely busy and it’s safer to move your child away to a safe space, ensure the area is clear of hazards and always use a safety gate if they can’t be supervised.
Also remember to take time out to ensure your child is safe. Set some extra into whatever you are doing to allow for interruptions.
Crushes are the second most attributed causes of a trip to A&E. Lights and animated figures placed around the home can be eye-catching to little ones and they could climb cabinets or sofas to try and get to flashing lights or characters that may have caught their eye. Decorations on the tree can also cause the same end result with littles ones pulling the tree over to get to the decoration. You can also make furniture safe (like display cabinets or chests of drawers) by buying and fitting a fixing kit. These kits are fairly cheap and enable you to anchor large cabinets to a wall in your home – which stops things from falling forward and on to a young child.
We advise that you always supervise where your child is playing. If you can’t do this, make sure the room they are in is safe from hazards.
Threat to Breathing
Blind cords, nappy sacks – there are plenty of threats around the home that could pose a risk to an under 5.
Today’s advice is a simple reminder that, if shopping bags are around the home that had goods or gifts inside, you’ll need to clear them away from the reach of any small children in your home that could suffocate by putting bags in their mouth or over their heads.
As previously mentioned in the #12DaysOfSafety messaging, ornaments and decorations on your tree could pose a risk to your little one’s health as they can end up in their mouths and accidently swallowed.
Always make sure any decorations that are small enough to be pose a risk to your child are placed on the tree out of their reach.