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NEWS RELEASE · 15th December 2012
BC Health Authority
Keeping kids safe during holiday season should top everyone’s wish list. With the holiday festivities in full swing, BC Ambulance Service and BC Children’s Hospital have some helpful tips to keep your kids safe.


Choose toys with an appropriate age recommendation for safety hazards, not only skill level. Small pieces which can easily come off, and small batteries and magnets can cause choking and severe internal injuries. A general rule is that if a piece is small enough to fit through a toilet paper roll, it could fit into a young child’s mouth and cause choking. Toys with strings long enough to wrap around a baby or toddler’s neck could strangle them. Keep older children’s toys out of the reach of younger kids.

Electric lights:

Strings of Christmas tree lights are hazardous because they are attractive to young children who risk being strangled, burned or electrocuted if they get wrapped up in the wires or put lights in their mouths. Use LED lights which may emit less heat energy. Keep all electrical cords out of reach and wind up extra cord lengths.


The glass of a gas fireplace heats up to 200˚C (400˚F) in just six minutes - hot as an open oven - and takes 45 minutes to cool down. The pilot light of a gas fireplace may also heat the glass enough to cause a burn. Stay close to your child when in a room with a fireplace that is on or has recently been turned off. A child’s skin is four times thinner than an adult’s and can burn four times faster. Block the fireplace with a hearth gate or screen that bolts into or around your fireplace, or put a safety gate in the doorway to the room with the fireplace.

Tree decorations and gift wrap:

Decorations are not toys - keep tinsel and small or breakable ornaments high on a tree and out of a child's reach. Keep an eye on holiday gift-wrap, including bags, paper, ribbons and bows. These items can strangle, suffocate or choke small children. Be sure to remove them from the area promptly after gifts have been opened.

Christmas tree:

Place yours a good distance from any heat sources such as fireplaces, radiators or portable heaters. Cut a few inches off the trunk to expose fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.

Candles and matches:

Often used at holiday time, these items can create fire hazards, so keep lit candles well out of reach and off of tablecloths or anything that a child could pull down or knock over. Many stores now carry battery operated candles which can reduce the risk of injury. Place lit menorahs on a high surface and not too close to the edge of a table.


Children may be eating unfamiliar foods for the first time this holiday season. It’s common to see more injuries in emergency rooms as a result of children getting large pieces of nuts, carrots or apples stuck in their airways which can stop breathing. Cut foods into small pieces and encourage children to sit while eating. Children are less likely to choke if they chew food thoroughly before swallowing. Be aware of hard candies and nuts that may be sitting in a candy dish when visiting another home.

Visiting friends and family:

The homes you visit may not be childproofed. Each year, curious toddlers choke or get poisoned by exploring and getting their hands on items not meant for children. These include pills, vitamins, medicines, cosmetics and cleaning products.

It’s always great to spend time with friends and family during the holidays. If you’re driving, remember to leave early, drive for the current conditions and slow down.

Lisa Widas, RN and Manager of BC Children’s Hospital’s Trauma Program

“The holiday season can be a very busy time for families. But that doesn’t mean parents can let their guard down and overlook safety hazards during this time. A helpful way to keep your children injury-free is to make safety part of your holiday planning.”

Pat Rusch, BCAS Unit Chief, Sayward, BC

“Weather in BC is so changeable – slow down on roads that could be icy and remember that road conditions vary considerably, especially in the mountains. Drive cautiously to help ensure a safe, happy holiday season with the people you love and treasure.”

For an online link to the release go to: