Injury Research and Policy Holiday Safety Research :: Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio

Holiday Safety

Shopping for presents, decorating the house and visiting relatives make the holidays a fun and exciting time of year. However, parents need to be mindful of new dangers in their homes and in those they visit. Help keep your family healthy at the holidays by following a few safety tips.

Holiday Visits and Parties

  • When visiting friends or family, keep an eye out for things that can break, uncovered electrical outlets and medications or other dangers within a child’s reach.

  • Be aware that guests in your home might have cigarettes or medications with them. Make sure to place coats and purses out of reach of children.

  • Avoid the temptation to wait until the morning to clean up after a party. Even small amounts of alcohol left in glasses could be very harmful to children and leftover food could be a choking hazard.


  • Holiday plants, including holly, mistletoe, evergreens and poinsettias can be poisonous.

  • If you suspect your child has swallowed a holiday plant, call the Central Ohio Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.


  • Place ornaments and tinsel high on the tree out of a child’s reach. These can be choking hazards.

  • Carefully clean up any broken ornaments or decorations. These can cause painful cuts if stepped on or picked up by a child.


Lights and Candles


  • Do not use the same extension cord for more than 3 strands of lights, and do not use lights with frayed or exposed wires.

  • Before buying a live tree, check for freshness. Keep your tree watered at all times. Live trees dry quickly and can become fire hazards.

  • Turn off all lights and blow out candles before going to bed or leaving the house.

Gift Giving

  • Never leave gifts for adults within reach of a young child. Gifts such as perfume, wine and electronics with small batteries can be harmful if swallowed by children.

  • Carefully read the instructions on new toys to make sure they are right for your child’s age and abilities.

  • Toys that are too hard or too easy can be misused and lead to injuries.

  • Bicycles, scooters, skateboards and skates can be great gifts. Make sure to buy protective gear, including a well-fitting helmet, if you will be giving a riding toy as a gift.

  • Keep up-to-date with recalls of toys that you give or receive at

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