Family gatherings, special traditions, delicious treats — the holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year, especially for kids. Unfortunately, for emergency room doctors it’s also one of the busiest.

Learn how to protect your little ones from some common holiday dangers, so you and your family can enjoy a season that’s happy and healthy.

Poisoning

1. Mistletoe, holly, poinsettias, Jerusalem cherry plants, and other plants are commonly used as decorations during the holidays. Like many plants, these are considered potentially poisonous and should be kept out of the reach of kids. Symptoms of plant poisoning can include rashes, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you suspect that your child has eaten any part of a plant, immediately call your doctor or the National Poison Center: (800) 222-1222.

2. “Bubble lights” containing methylene chloride can be poisonous if a child drinks the fluid from more than one light (even if labeled nontoxic). Snow sprays may be harmful if the aerosol propellants are used improperly.

3. Alcohol poisoning is a common risk for children during the holiday season. Many parents host holiday parties where alcohol is served. Parents must take care to remove all empty and partially empty cups as soon as possible. Because kids imitate adults, many may drink the beverages they see adults drinking. Children become “drunk” much more quickly than adults, so even small amounts of alcohol can be dangerous.

4. Food poisoning is another potential holiday hazard. Practice food safety by washing hands, utensils, dishes, and anything else that comes in contact with raw meat, including poultry and fish, and raw eggs before and after use. Don’t contaminate a serving dish with raw meat. Store leftovers properly and heat them thoroughly before serving.

Choking and Swallowing

5. Tree ornaments, light bulbs, icicles, tinsel, and small toys are potential choking hazards for small children because they may block the airway. The general rule of thumb is that if it’s small enough to fit in the mouths of babies and toddlers, it’s too small to play with.

6. Common holiday foods such as peanuts or popcorn are potential choking hazards and should not be given to children under age 4.

7. The needles of holiday trees can cause painful cuts in the mouth and throat of a child who swallows them.

8. Angel hair (made from finely spun glass) and ornament hangers may cause cuts, skin irritation, or eye damage if touched or swallowed by children.

Find out more by reading the entire “Making the Holidays Safe” article.

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