Christmas Season Safety

Snowman wishing everybody a Merry Christmas
Young girl under a Christmas tree

Christmas is just a few weeks away and many a wide-eyed child will soon be bubbling with excitement as the magical, wondrous events of the season unfold. 

Here are some Christmas safety tips to ensure you and your family will have a happy and safe holiday season.

Christmas Trees, Lights & Ornaments

Nothing beats the smell of a fresh Christmas tree but few things during this festive season are as dangerous as a dried-out tree. Before you buy a Christmas tree, examine the needles. Bend them between your fingers. They shouldn't break or drop from the branch. Tap the trunk of the tree onto the ground. If an excessive amount of needles fall to the ground, it's too dry and will die soon. Scotch pines tend to shed more needles than other types of Christmas trees.

  • Store the tree outside until you are ready to decorate it.
  • The Christmas tree will absorb more water and live longer if you cut one inch cut off the trunk before placing it in the tree stand.
  • After you have placed your tree in a sturdy base, fill the reservoir with water and check the water level daily. A fresh tree will drink a lot! Keep a large watering container at hand.
  • Secure the tree so that it can't be knocked over by pets or children. Many of the newer 'wide base' stands offer much more stability and support than the older stands.
Christmas tree
  • The Christmas tree should not block the front hall area or door escape routes.
  • Artificial trees should be made with flame-resistant materials and bear the label, ‘Canadian Standards Association (CSA Approved)’.
  • Keep your Christmas tree away from floor heaters, fireplaces and other heat sources, as well as electrical outlets and electrical sources.
  • Do not place lit candles near the tree and NEVER on the tree.
a sprig of holly
  • Christmas lights/bulbs should not come in contact with needles or branches.
  • Make sure your lights are (CSA) approved.
  • Don't use outdoor lights on an indoor Christmas tree.
  • When decorating the tree, place breakable ornaments on the higher limbs. This measure will protect your children and pets as well as safeguard the breakables.
  • Keep small ornaments and tinsel that can be swallowed out of reach of children and pets.
  • Check all indoor and outdoor lights to make sure that all connections are tight and that the bulbs and cords are in good condition.
  • Replace wiring, sockets or plugs that are frayed, cracked or have loose connections.
  • Never use lights that have an empty socket and replace burnt out bulbs with those recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Christmas lights should not touch combustible materials.
  • When shopping for Christmas tree ornaments, ensure they are flame resistant.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets. Use more than one outlet or power bar with a surge protector if the wattage of your lights is more than the outlet can handle.
  • Keep ‘bubbling lights’ away from children. They contain a hazardous chemical that can cause irritation and chemical burn.
father putting up a string of Christmas lights
  • Christmas lights should not touch combustible materials.
  • When shopping for Christmas tree ornaments, ensure they are flame resistant.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets. Use more than one outlet or power bar with a surge protector if the wattage of your lights is more than the outlet can handle.
  • Keep ‘bubbling lights’ away from children. They contain a hazardous chemical that can cause irritation and chemical burn.
Santa's sleigh under a starry sky

Decorating the House

Christmas garland

Christmas season is one of the happiest times of the year. By avoiding potential hazards and paying close attention to safety tips for holidays, your home will be happy and safe.

  • Beware of toxic holiday decorations. Mistletoe, holly berries, amaryllis, azalea, boxwood, Christmas rose, crown of thorns, English ivy and Jerusalem cherry are poisonous if swallowed.
  • Old tinsel may contain lead.
  • Wait for natural snow to fall on your windows. Artificial snow sprays can cause lung irritation if inhaled.
  • Keep decorations that are breakable or have small removable parts out of reach of children.
  • Lit candles are a potential fire hazard and should be placed in a safe location out of reach of children. Cut candle wicks short to prevent high flames
  • Christmas novelties are not toys, even if they resemble them. Christmas novelties do not have to comply with toy safety regulations. Give careful thought to where you display your decorations.
  • Ensure that garlands, wreaths and other decorations are out of reach of young children.
  • If you are decorating with balloons, be aware that balloons pose a serious choking hazard to little children.

Choosing Gifts for Children with Safety in Mind

  • Select Christmas gifts that are suitable for the child’s age and abilities, and from reputable sources that comply with industry standards. Look for the manufacturer’s age recommendations on the package.
  • Make sure batteries in toys are properly installed and not easily accessible. Do not let children take battery-operated toys to bed.
  • If you are buying gifts for other children, ask their parents for suggestions.
a boy and his chemistry set
  • Remember that very young children put things in their mouths. Check toys carefully for small parts that can be pulled or broken off, i.e. eyes on stuffed toys, wheels on toy cars and button batteries.
  • Toys with string or cord attachments longer than seven inches pose a strangle hazard.
  • Check all toys for sharp points or edges.
  • Stay away from loud toys - protect your sanity and your child's hearing.
  • Follow manufacturer’s directions closely for toy assembly and usage. Teach your child how to use the toy properly and safely.
  • Ensure that older children have adequate adult supervision with toys that may pose a safety hazard, i.e. chemistry sets or wood burning kits.
  • Batteries in toys should be monitored for the following potential dangers:
    1. incorrectly installed batteries with wrong ends in contacts may overheat and explode;
    2. old batteries may leak and can cause skin burns; and
    3. button batteries can be swallowed and cause choking and poisoning.
  • Keep broken toys out of reach of children.
  • Discard toys that cannot be repaired.
  • If you're giving sports equipment, include protective gear like helmets or reflective clothing as part of the gift.
  • Plug-in electric toys should be labelled by a fire safety-testing agency. Don't buy highly combustible toys that use flammable liquids.
Teddy bear and ABC blocks

Gift Wrapping 

a variety of differently wrapped Christmas presents
  • Keep combustible materials away from heat sources.
  • Discard wrapping materials.
  • Plastic bags can lead to suffocation.
  • Small packing Styrofoam pellets and ties can be a choking hazard for little children.

Entertaining During the Holidays

Holiday festivities bring friends and family together, however, hosts and guests who are not accustomed to having little children around may need reminding to keep dangerous items out of reach:

people reaching for Christmas snacks
  • Nuts, candy canes, mints, popcorn and other small snack foods served on accessible, low-lying tables are potential choking hazards.
  • Hot drinks are a frequent cause of scalding burns.
  • Purses are enticing to young children and may contain dangerous items as medications, lighters, matches and sharp objects.
  • After entertaining, remove leftover food and drinks from low-lying tables so they are not accessible to early-risers!

Have a very Merry & Safe Christmas Season!

Snowman wishing everybody a Merry Christmas

Additional Resources

For additional information, Diligencia Investigative Reporting recommends the following articles:

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