For Children's Sake, Celebrate With Care

By Louisa Jaggar
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, November 22, 2007

Toddlers and young children often cannot resist the allure of the many shimmering, electrified holiday decorations. How could they? It's important to take extra precautions this time of year so the family doesn't end up sitting in the ER waiting to have a decoration removed from a child's nose or something even more dire. We sought advice from three experts on how to more attentively ensure a safe holiday season for youngsters.

An Emergency Room Doctor

Twenty years of working in emergency medicine has convinced Ellen Dugan, an assistant professor at Georgetown University Hospital, that "children need to be protected, especially during the holidays."

¿ Stabilize the Christmas tree, attaching it securely with rope or wire to the wall or floor. "I have seen numerous children in the ER because the Christmas tree has fallen on them," Dugan said, "sometimes because the cat crawled up the tree and tipped it over, and sometimes because the toddler tries unsuccessfully to climb the tree."

¿ Place wooden or fabric decorations -- those too big to fit in a toddler's mouth -- along the bottom of the tree, and put fragile glass ornaments or those with sharp edges out of reach. Make sure any reachable ornaments have no small pieces that can be broken off and stuffed into the ears, nose or mouth.

¿ Skip the tinsel. Toddlers love its glittery surface and, for some reason, feel compelled to taste it. Tinsel is a "big choker," Dugan said.

¿ Keep electrical cords tucked out of sight.

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