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David Morgan
575-528-5197 Office
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Safety this Holiday Season

December 17, 2013 - Injury Prevention - Safety

The holiday season is upon us and for many that means wonderful experiences, such as decorating homes, having family gatherings and sharing gifts. But the New Mexico Department of Health is reminding New Mexicans that this is also the season that can create unique circumstances that can be hazardous for children.

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, 3,270 children were seen in emergency departments for injuries caused solely by nonelectric holiday ornaments in 2012. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says 192,000 infants, children, and youth under age 15 went to a hospital emergency department for toy-related injuries last year as well. Aside from unsafe behaviors by the children themselves, unsafe toys are also a factor; CPSC has prevented over 10 million hazardous toys from reaching the American public during the past five years alone. It is also important to read labels closely and determine if a toy is age appropriate.

The Department of Health recommends the following to prevent injuries from gifts:

  • Select gifts for small children that do not have small pieces that could be broken off, or small batteries and magnets that are readily accessible, as these items present a risk for both a choking and internal bleeding. If batteries and magnets are absolutely necessary, seal the access to the compartments with tape.
  • Examine children’s jewelry for durability as well; pieces that are broken off and swallowed are a hazard for both choking and trace metals.
  • Avoid toys with sharp points and edges, or the capacity to shoot water or projectiles, as these can damage eyes.
  • Provide a soft landing surface area for playground equipment, including approximately 10” of sand, wood chips, or sawdust. Trampolines should either be dug into the ground or have a safety net, as well as a pad to cover the springs.
  • Include a helmet with the gift of a bicycle, tricycle, in-line skates, roller skates, skateboard, scooter, ice skates, skis, or snowboard; one multi-sport helmet is suitable for most recreational activity.
  • Do not place any toy, pillow or blanket gifts in a crib with a baby, to avoid choking or suffocation; infants should always sleep alone.

Another concern during the holiday season: home fires. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) says the increased presence of candles, electrical lights, and Christmas trees during the holidays are particularly problematic. USFA has determined that 40% of home decoration fires are started by candles and 50% of Christmas tree fires are caused by either electrical problems or by having the tree too close to a heat source. Cooking is the primary cause of all residential fires, according the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, since extensive food preparation during the holidays is more common than at any other time of year.

Here are some tips to prevent fires this holiday season:

  • Decorate your tree using lights and cords in good condition, and secure them so children cannot pull on the wires and topple the tree. Turn off the tree lights when leaving the home or going to bed.
  • Keep the Christmas tree in a pan of water to prevent excessive dryness.
  • Position burning candles out of children’s reach, away from draperies or anything flammable, and do not leave them burning when unattended.
  • Use a fireplace screen when building a fire and do not leave young children in the room without supervision.
  • Install and/or check smoke alarms throughout home before winter holidays.
  • Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher.

For more information on keeping healthy and safe for the holidays, visit http://www.cdc.gov/family/holiday/.


Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.