For happy holidays, ensure safety of gifts, decorations, food prep

Family decorating Christmas treeWith seasonal festivities getting into their full swing, be sure to take common sense steps to ensure that the holidays stay safe and healthy as well as fun.

As the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported:

“Unsafe toys, cooking fires, decorating, holiday trees and candles lead to thousands of injuries and deaths each year. People can celebrate more safely this holiday season by making a list of safety precautions and checking it twice.”

The extra care should not be ignored, the agency says, noting:

“[I]n 2020, there were nearly 150,000 toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries and nine deaths among children ages 14 and younger, with most of these deaths associated with choking on small parts of toys. Nonmotorized scooters account for 21% of all toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries: The number of injuries increased 17% in fiscal year 2021, from 35,600 scooter injuries reported in 2020, to 41,700 injuries reported in 2021.”

As for fires in the kitchen and related to food preparation, the agency says this:

“Cooking fires remain the No. 1 cause of residential fires … there are about 360,000 home fires every year, leading to about 2,400 deaths and nearly 10,400 injuries each year …  Turkey fryers create particular risks. Since 1998, CPSC is aware of 222 fire or scald/burn incidents involving turkey fryers, resulting in 83 injuries and $9.7 million in property loss.”

Decorations may make the season bright, but they also create hazards, the federal experts say:

“On average, there are about 160 decorating-related injuries each day during the holiday season, with almost half of the incidents involving falls. In the 2019 holiday season, about 14,800 people were treated in emergency rooms due to holiday decorating-related injuries. In the 2019 holiday season, there have been no deaths associated with seasonal decorations.”

The National Fire Protection Association warns that “Heating, holiday decorations, winter storms and candles all contribute to an increased risk of fire,” including electrical blazes as well the hazard of carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter months.”

To safeguard kids, parents and other grownups may need to scout out situations, tracking not only safety issues but also knowing what gifts that youngsters may be getting — and intercepting risky toys and safeguarding other presents as much as possible. With tots, it is important to ensure that none of their gifts include parts that pose choking hazards. Older kids’ toys may require safety add-ons, such as helmets for those riding on their holiday gifts or to check hazards that may be posed by battery-powered devices. A Massachusetts nonprofit advocating for toy safety has posted information on topic worth grownups’ reading.

Just a reminder for generous givers: Pediatricians and other experts have recommended that grownups get back to the basics for gifts for kids. Youngsters may get a better boost for their curiosity, creativity, imagination, and learning from familiar toys like blocks, gifts, and dolls, rather than adults spending budget-busting amounts on pricey digital devices, which too often serve as electronic babysitters.

The coronavirus pandemic and the holidays may disrupt youngsters’ routines, especially their getting a good night’s sleep. So, parents need to be mindful about helping kids, as appropriate, in managing their screen time, whether with new smart phones, e-tablets, or video games.

The house may look spangly and spectacular when decked out in holiday finery. But experts urge the public to double check that those smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning well as winter and the holidays set in. Turn off the holiday decorations at bedtime, especially electrical lights on trees — which need to be kept far from heat sources and properly disposed of as they dry out and brown.

If you’re keeping the house toasty for family and guests, use great care with fireplaces, as well as heating systems and devices (space heaters).

In my practice, I see not only the harms patients suffer while seeking medical services, but also the damage that can be inflicted on them and their loved ones by dangerous and defective products. My colleagues in the firm and I also see the sorrow that can occur with injuries to babies and children. An ounce of prevention can prevent a ton of problems during what we hope are terrific holidays for all.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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