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Holiday Safety Tips from Stony Brook Experts to Ensure the Season Stays Merry and Bright

Holiday Safety

STONY BROOK, NY, DECEMBER 14, 2016 – The hustle and bustle that comes with the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ can unfortunately lead many to disregard of important safety precautions.  

In 2012, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated there were 15,000 injuries involving holiday decorating seen in emergency departments nationwide – a number that was consecutively increasing.

Susan Katz, MD, Pediatric Injury Prevention Coordinator, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital

“The holidays are a time when many families decorate their homes, travel to see family and friends, and eat lots of great food.” said Susan Katz, MD, Pediatric Injury Prevention Coordinator, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. “But with all these activities come some safety risks that we may not always think about. By reminding ourselves of a few small safety tips, the holidays can be safer and more fun for everyone.”

Holiday Road Trip

Between Christmas and New Year’s, the number of long-distance trips (to and from a ­destination 50 miles or more away) rises by 23 percent, compared to the average number for the remainder of the year.

Dr. Katz suggests that travelers with little ones should check the Safe Kids’ car seat checklist, and check it twice, before hitting the road.  And while baby, it’s cold outside, bulky winter clothes and coats can keep a car seat from keeping children safe, so parents should cover babies and young children with a thick blanket after they’re strapped in securely.

Staying overnight is a great option to avoid driving home at night, but make sure to plan for safe sleep.  Don’t forget the ABCs of safe sleep for babies – the child should sleep ALONE, on his or her BACK, and in a CRIB (pack and play etc).

The danger of carbon monoxide is also increased in the winter months because fuel-powered devices are used more frequently.  Be sure wherever you stay there is a working carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm.

Underneath the Tree

With toys for every good girl and good little boy, take into consideration the simple safety hazards of many toys.  Consider the child’s age when purchasing a toy or game this holiday season.  Dr. Katz suggests asking yourself these 5 questions before buying:

  • Are there any small parts that can be easily swallowed?
  • Is the toy non-toxic?
  • Could the toy be a fire hazard?
  • Does the toy have any sharp, protruding edges or projectile parts?
  • Does this toy include button batteries?  Each year in the United States, more than 2,800 kids are treated in emergency rooms after swallowing button batteries; That's one child every three hours.

Chestnuts Roasting

Steven Sandoval, MD, Medical Director, Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters Burn Center, Stony Brook University Hospital

Meals and the holidays go hand and hand, but Steven Sandoval, MD, Medical Director, Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters Burn Center, Stony Brook University Hospital, says the Burn Center sees more and more cooking injuries each year.

“People aren’t used to cooking such large meals on a regular basis,” says Dr. Sandoval. “Scalding is one of the number one burn injuries patients come in with; from large pots filled with boiling water, to boiling hot juices spilling out of meat pans, people need to take extra precautions in the kitchen.”

Some cooking safety tips include:

  • Keep potholders, wooden utensils, towels, and food packaging away from the stovetop.
  • Keep children away from chaffing dishes filled with hot water and gel fueled burners.  Make sure children do not pull on tablecloths and dangling table runners with hot liquids on them.
  • Take extra precautions when removing large dishes out of the oven; they are often heavier than we’re used to and can spill over burning hands, forearms or others.

Keep the Fire Delightful, Not Frightful

While the beautiful fireplace is burning bright, remember to keep children at a distance. Many families will place enclosures to keep children away, but those can heat up quickly and little hands can get burned if touched.  Dr. Sandoval urges families to not burn wrapping paper in the fire, as it can ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

Enjoy lighting candles, but don’t forget to blow them out when you leave the room and before you go to sleep. Make a habit of placing candles, matches and lighters in a safe place, out of children's reach, where they cannot be knocked over. 

To learn more safety tips, visit: http://www.safekids.org/holidays.


About Stony Brook Children’s Hospital

With 106 beds, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital is Suffolk County’s only children’s hospital. More than 8,000 children and young adults are discharged each year. Stony Brook Children’s has more than 160 pediatric specialists in over 30 specialties. The hospital is Suffolk County’s only Level 4 Regional Perinatal Center and has a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It is home to the nation’s first Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center and also offers a Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Program, Pediatric Cardiology Program, Pediatric HIV and AIDS Center, and Cystic Fibrosis Center. To learn more, visit www.stonybrookchildrens.org.

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