Tips for safe decorating over the holidays.
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As I look around my house I notice that the holiday season is coming to an end. We have taken down and put away most of our holiday decorations. It’s time to put all of my usual brick-a-brack back on the shelves where it usually stays. Big empty gaps are what I have on my shelves right now. Sometimes I wonder if the emptiness is better or safer when there are children running amok in the house. My children do love to run amok. Now that my kids are a little older, I can trust them more around certain items which I’d never let them near in previous years. The decorations that I find require the most attention are the ones that come out once a year.
During Christmastime we pull out the Santas, elves, and snowmen decorations. During Easter we bring out the bunnies. It’s hard to keep kids from getting excited about these cute new things they haven’t seen since last year. If decorations are brand new, then the excitement might even be heightened. I have 2 foot tall ceramic bunnies for Easter that come out each year and while they are adorable, to me, they look like giant weapons of destruction. That’s what they would be if they fell into the wrong hands anyway. So, when setting up decorations I try to see everything from the child’s point of view. Here are some rules I’ve come up with to help alleviate any holiday-decoration-related injuries.
1. If it is fragile or breakable, but you absolutely must have it out, put it up high. It should be out of reach and away from anything that might be used as a climbing apparatus.
2. Make sure there are friendly touchable items within reach. If the kids have something to play with, they are less likely to seek out a useful climbing apparatus to get to the breakable items.
3. If something is heavy and could fall and hurt someone, consider putting it outside or on the ground in a low traffic area.
4. Look at every item in terms of what danger it will be to the children, not what danger the children will be to the item. I guarantee that no matter what the item is, your child is infinitely more precious. If you are that concerned about an item, you probably should just keep it locked up.
5. If a decoration is going to cause you an increased amount of frustration while trying to keep the kids away from it, it’s probably not worth it. Holidays are meant to be enjoyed. Scoldings and time-outs are not enjoyable for anyone.
6. If you have a small, curious child and a Christmas tree, you might consider decorating the tree from the middle to the top and leave the bottom either undecorated or let your small child decorate the lower half of the tree with cloth ornaments or satin balls using ribbon hangers instead of the standard metal ones. Watch for choking hazards and make sure there are no loose parts.
7. Do not use tinsel. It’s just never a good idea. Kids, cats, and vacuum cleaners do not get along well with tinsel. Just avoid it.
8. Vacuum daily. Inspect your floors and make sure small pieces of items haven’t fallen on the ground.
9. Keep candles out of reach and never leave a child in a room with a lit candle. I think that falls under the standard rule-of-common-sense, but I figured I’d add it to the list.
10. Talk to your children about the rules and remind them repeatedly. “We put the decorations out so we can enjoy looking at them. These decorations are for looking at and not touching.” And remember to give your children items that they CAN play with. Sometimes it’s really hard to see something fun or pretty and not want to touch it.
There are many more things that can be added to this list and I’d love if you’d share your tips too. Please leave your suggestions in the comments section of the transcript of this episode.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers some helpful safety tips for overall decorating safety. I’ve focused mainly on the children’s safety aspect of it all, but if you’d like more information on general safety, I invite you to visit http://www.cpsc.gov.
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