Remember that mistletoe, holly and other plants are poisonous, and thus can be a hazard for both children and pets. If you bring these plants into your home, keep them up high where pets or small children can’t access them.

  1. If hosting guests, ask people if they have any medication with them when they arrive at your house. If so, collect it right then and there and store it in a locked cabinet so that it isn’t accessible to children.
  1. If some of your guests are smokers, have them give up their lighters or Zippos and store them in the same place as the medications (or in another area inaccessible to children).
  1. Be on the lookout for signs that a child is playing with fire, such as burnt matches underneath the bed or charred material in dark places such as closets.
  1. When visiting a relative, always ask if there is a gun in the house, and if so, how it is secured. Accidental shootings involving children spike around this time of the year, as kids stumble upon a relative’s gun that their parents didn’t know was in the house. This might also be a good time to go over gun safety with your kids.
  1. Knives, scissors, box-cutters, and other sharp tools tend to get a lot of use during the holidays as people wrap presents or open packaging. So store these cutting tools in a safe place and be mindful about where you set them down, especially if you have toddlers in the house. (Children this age love to pick up things and walk around with them, which combined with their clumsiness can equate to disaster.) Be sure to teach older kids the proper way to carry a sharp object, (carefully with the point down), and keep kid-friendly scissors around so that kids can help under adult supervision.
  1. Don’t let kids try out outdoor Christmas or Hanukkah presents they receive – such as bikes, skateboards or scooters – inside the house. This is a common cause of child ER visits around Christmas.
  1. Program poison control (1-800-222-1222) into your cell phone so that you have it handy in an emergency.
  1. Keep an eye out for infants and toddlers chewing on Christmas light wires.
  1. Do your best to keep toys for different age groups separated. If hosting kids of all ages from several different families, try to set aside a separate playroom for infants and toddlers, and keep it free from older kids and their age-inappropriate toys.
  1. Do your part to prevent drunk driving by making sure that nobody from your family gets on the road when intoxicated.
  1. Make sure your kids buckle up and use their car seats when riding with relatives.
  1. Above all, don’t let supervision slide during the holidays. Ensure that someone is in charge of monitoring kids at all times. When relatives are over, kids have a tendency to get lost among the commotion, and this is when accidents happen. You should also train older kids to know what safety hazards to watch out for with our book What Bigger Kids Can Do, designed for elementary school-aged kids.