The most wonderful time of the year is also an awfully hazardous time of the year, based on the 15,000 holiday decorating injuries reported annually by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Parents need to be extra cautious when bringing out their inner Buddy the Elf on Santa’s Eve—for little kids, everything looks bounceable and edible and made to be played with.
These accidents are preventable. Here are some ways to kid-proof your holiday decor:
Weighted stocking holders: Let’s start here. If you have kids, don’t use them. As Leo suggests, use an alternative such as 3M Command hooks, which stick to flat surfaces, and come off cleanly when it’s time to remove them.
Glass tree ornaments: Secure them far out of kids’ reach, or use unbreakable ones. If a glass ornament does break, use a lint roller or duct tape wrapped around your hand. Large pieces should be picked up first, then the lint roller or duct tape can be used to get up little slivers and shards.
Popular holiday plants: Some common holiday plants can be poisonous or toxic, particularly to children or pets. Here’s a rundown:
- Mistletoe: Poisonous. According to ThoughtCo: “Phoradendron species contain a toxin called phoratoxin, which can cause blurred vision, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, blood pressure changes, and even death. The Viscumspecies of mistletoe contain a slightly different cocktail of chemicals, including the poisonous alkaloid tyramine, which produce similar symptoms.”
- Poinsettia: Not particularly dangerous. Though you shouldn’t eat it. (Edited to add: As commenter Maria Patenaude points out, people who are allergic to latex should be careful around poinsettia plants as they’re in the rubber tree family. In one study, 40% of latex-allergic people tested were also allergic to poinsettias.)
- Holly: Poisonous. Apparently, the toxic chemical is theobromine, which is in chocolate, which can make dogs sick. Holly berries are packed with the compound, and eating even just a couple can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and drowsiness. If you’re decorating with holly, remove the berries. If a child has ingested a berry, remove any residue that remains in the mouth, rinse their mouth with water or milk, and call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.
Holiday lights: Use indoor lights indoors, and outdoor lights outdoors. Secure extension cords against the wall—but not under rugs—so people won’t trip on them. And make sure to turn off the lights whenever you leave the house or go to bed.