Experts offer tips for safe holiday celebrations

Silver Cross Hospital and Illinois Poison Control have suggestions for staying safe during the holidays.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, hospital emergency departments treated more than 166,000 toy-related injuries in the U.S. to children younger than 15, with most associated with riding toys and choking on small parts, like small balls and balloons, a news release from Silver Cross Hospital said,

The challenge for parents is to find toys that children will enjoy and that are known to be safe.

Dr. Daniel Checco, medical director of the Silver Cross Free-Standing Emergency Care Center located at 143rd St. and Bell Road in Homer Glen, recommends people:

Avoid toys that shoot or have parts that fly off.

Choose toys made of durable materials with no sharp edges or points.

Don't give young children toys with small parts. Youngsters tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking.

Choose age-appropriate toys. Age labeling is provided for developmental and safety reasons.

Select toys to suit a child's abilities, skill, and interest level.

To avoid serious ear injury, don't buy toys that make loud or shrill noise.

Choose well-made stuffed animals. The eyes, noses, and other small parts should be fastened securely.

Never buy hobby kits, such as chemistry sets, for children younger than age 12.

Look for the letters "ASTM," which indicate a toy or product meets the national safety standards set by ASTM International, formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials.

“Parents should practice a common sense approach when purchasing age-appropriate toys for their children,” Checco said in the release. “By simply explaining and demonstrating how to use the toys and keeping toys for older children away from younger ones, many accidents can be avoided.”

Other tips from Silver Cross to avoid holiday mishaps

Discard packaging immediately. Sharp staples and plastic bags can cause injuries and pose safety hazards.

Make sure children play in safe areas and, if appropriate, under supervision.

Make a list of safety rules and share them with your children. If your youngsters are playing with friends, remind everyone of your safety rules.

Never leave food unattended on the stove or in the oven.

Keep children away from the cooking area, and keep flammable items like potholders and paper or plastic bags away from the stove and oven.

Make sure your live tree has plenty of water.

Place burning candles in sight, away from flammable items.

Throw out light sets with broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections.

Holiday plants are not on the menu

While holly, mistletoe and poinsettia might make some people feel jolly, some winter plants used for decorating can put a damper on your holiday festivities, if ingested, according to the Illinois Poison Center (IPC).

“Unlike popular belief, these traditional holiday plants are not deadly when consumed,” Dr. Michael Wahl, medical director, IPC, said in the news release.

Depending on the quantity, holly, mistletoe and poinsettia will cause stomach upset, including nausea and vomiting, when ingested.To prevent accidental consumption, the IPC has offered the following indoor plant safety tips:

• Keep all live plants and plant material high and out of reach of small children;

• Consider using netting to catch falling leaves and berries;

• Promptly clean areas of plant remnants; and

• Consider using the faux versions of these plants to keep children and pets safe.

For accidental ingestion, call IPC at 800-222-1222. Treatment advice is available experts 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, including holidays. The call is free and confidential.

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