WASHINGTON, DC – The holidays normally are a time to get together in person with friends and family. However, the pandemic may mean virtual celebrations this year. Regardless of how you celebrate, it’s important to protect yourself from possible dangers associated with holiday trees, candles, and cooking fires, as well as unsafe toys.
To keep the season safe, here’s what you need to know:
- Choking on small parts and riding toy injuries: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that in 2019, there were an estimated 162,700 toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries and 14 deaths to children younger than 15, with most of the deaths associated with choking on small parts, like small balls and small toy parts and riding toys.
- Toy recalls: continue to decline, with nine toy recalls in fiscal year 2020, three involving a lead violation, compared to 172 recalls in 2008, with 19 involving lead violations. Toys were also recalled for defects, such as choking, entrapment, ingestion and laceration hazards. Recalled toys present choking, entrapment, ingestion and laceration hazards, among other hazards that pose the threat of death or injury to a child.
- Scooters: The number of injuries associated with non-motorized scooters significantly decreased from 2015 to 2019 for children younger than 15, from about 45,500 to about 35,600 injuries.
- Follow age guidance and other safety information on the toy packaging, and choose toys that match your child’s interests and abilities.
- Get safety gear, including helmets for scooters and other riding toys–helmets should be worn properly at all times and be sized to fit.
- Keep small balls and toys with small parts away from children younger than age 3, and keep deflated balloons away from children younger than 8 years old (discard broken balloons at once).
- Know your seller: Purchase toys from retailers you know and trust.
- Be careful with magnets: High-powered magnet sets are a safety risk to children, both toddlers and teens. Children have swallowed loose magnets, causing serious intestinal injuries.
Ensure stuffed toys have age-appropriate features such as embroidered or secured eyes and noses for younger children and seams that are reinforced to withstand an older child’s play.
- Cooking fires are the number 1 cause of residential fires.
- An average of 1,700 cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day each year, more than three times the average number on any other day of the year.
- In the last two decades, there were 220 fire or scald/burn incidents involving turkey fryers, resulting in 81 injuries and $9.7 million in property loss.
- Never leave cooking food unattended on the stove.
- Keep children away from the cooking area, and keep flammable items, like potholders and paper or plastic bags, away from the stove and oven.
- Only fry a turkey outside and away from your home–not inside your garage, or on your porch. Do not overfill the oil in the turkey fryer and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on use, including thawing your turkey thoroughly and maintaining control of the oil temperature.
- Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing.
- Turn pan handles towards the back of the range.
- Have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen.
- If a pan catches on fire, cover it with a lid to smother the flames or use a fire extinguisher. Never use flour or water to put out a pan fire. Call 911 if necessary.
- Make sure you have a smoke alarm on every level of your home, inside each bedroom, and outside sleeping areas.
- On average, there are about 200 decorating-related injuries each day during the holiday season, with about half of the incidents involving falls. And in the 2018 holiday season, about 17,500 people were treated in emergency rooms due to holiday decorating-related injuries.
- In the 2019 holiday season, there were six deaths associated with holiday season decorations.
- From 2015 to 2017, on average, there were about 100 Christmas tree fires and about 1,100 candle fires (in November and December), resulting in 20 deaths, 160 injuries and nearly $50 million in property damage each year.
- Make sure your live Christmas tree has plenty of water, and look for the “Fire Resistant” label when buying an artificial tree.
- Place burning candles in sight, away from flammable items, and blow them out before leaving the room.
- Only use lights tested for safety by a national recognized testing laboratory. Throw out sets with broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.