It’s the holiday season, and the most wonderful time of the year for many. Friends and family gather to celebrate old traditions and make new memories. Amid the fun, the holidays also can bring new challenges for children’s health and safety.
To keep the holidays focused on being together and avoid unnecessary doctor’s visits, take a few minutes to go through the following recommendations, says Alexy Arauz Boudreau, MD, MPH, a Mass General Brigham pediatrician. Dr. Arauz Boudreau is associate chief of Pediatrics for Primary Care at Massachusetts General Hospital and medical director for Population Health Management at Mass General for Children.
Dr. Arauz Boudreau and other Mass General Brigham experts share holiday health and safety tips. Learn how to help keep everyone as happy and healthy as possible during your seasonal celebrations.
“Holiday gatherings create shared memories and bring together multiple generations. Often the more, the merrier,” says Dr. Arauz Boudreau. “Indoor settings are also the perfect environments to spread respiratory viruses. However, there are steps we can all take to keep our family and friends safer.”
Dr. Boudreau recommends you:
While unwrapping toys and gifts can be source of great joy for kids, the presents themselves can cause problems if they’re not used safely. Parents should establish ground rules for safe play and never leave young children to play unsupervised. And don’t forget to dispose of wrapping supplies safely.
Following Dr. Schulz’s fire safety tips can help prevent burns. There are other potential sources of burns around the home, like a hot cup of coffee or an unlocked cleaning cupboard. To prevent burns from liquids or household chemicals, he recommends the following safety checks at home or on the road visiting family and friends:
Even with all the proper precautions, accidents can happen. Treatment for burns depends on how severe the burn is, and what caused it. For minor burns, clean the skin with soap and water if necessary. Avoid using ice. For more severe burns with blistering, or any burn caused by a chemical, seek medical care urgently.
Accidental poisonings can happen anytime, not just during the holidays. But with all the extra activity and departure from the regular routine, there’s extra potential for exposure. Dr. Lai-Becker explains how to recognize the signs of poisoning and how to perform first aid.
Signs and symptoms of poisoning include:
Call poison control immediately at 1-800-222-1222, or 9-1-1 if a child loses consciousness or has trouble breathing. If you have guests, remind them to keep their medications in tamper-resistant bottles.
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is more common in cold weather, when people start heating their homes. Gas-powered furnaces and heaters can release the odorless, colorless gas if they haven’t been maintained properly. Other causes of CO poisoning can include improperly vented generators or fireplaces.
If a CO detector goes off in your home, “Just get everybody outside. Don’t pause to open the windows or call the fire department. Even if you’re not sure—get outside and then call for help,” says Jonathan Slutzman, MD, a Mass General Brigham emergency medicine doctor.
It’s not too late to plan ahead and coordinate with loved ones to have a happy holiday season!