Experts: Holidays bring hidden dangers for young children

Posted at 7:11 AM, Dec 15, 2020

COVID-19 isn't the only risk this holiday season.

Experts warn that the holidays bring a lot of hidden dangers for children, especially with everyone spending more time at home.

In her 20 years at CHOC, a pediatric healthcare system in Orange County, California, Amy Frias has made it her mission to keep kids out of the hospital.

She wears a lot of hats, helping families with everything from CPR courses to car seats and helmet safety.

“Injuries are the leading cause of death and serious injury for children under 14,” Frias said. "It's all about prevention it's all about setting people up so that kids aren’t seriously injured or hurt.”

This holiday season Frias says, we all need all the joy and happiness we can get. She advises caution about seasonal decor, especially if you've got young kids.

“Things like keeping breakable ornaments up high on your tree, or maybe not having any breakable ornaments on your tree, and making sure that none of your lights are frayed and everything is in good working condition,” Frias said.

She said to make sure you're considering age-appropriate gifts, be wary of toys with button cell batteries, and make sure kids can't access those compartments.

She also warns that people need to be mindful of holiday plants, and stockings, which can pose a problem.

“Mistletoe or holly berry those are two items that are extremely poisonous," Frias said. “Hang your stockings from your fireplace, but if you use your fireplace, remove the stockings from your fireplace before you use it."

Frias added that parents should keep in mind that the glass on your fireplace is one of the hottest areas in your home and a young child with thin skin that touches it could have third-degree burns in seconds.

When it comes to some of those bigger gifts, Frias reminds people about falls, which is what doctors tend to see the most of in pediatric trauma centers.

“Bikes and scooters are great gifts to give kids," Frias said. "But also include a helmet. They need to have helmets and make sure it fits.”

Dr. Nikhil Bhayani, who's an infectious disease specialist for a large health care group in North Texas said if you're planning a trip to see Santa Claus, do it while keeping COVID precautions in mind.

“My kids wanted to see Santa Claus and the first thing I said was 'we’ll see what type of protective barrier they have what are they implementing,'" Bhayani said. "It was very interesting that Santa was 6 feet away and he was sitting in the back of the sleigh, but they had a Plexiglass separating the kids from Santa Claus."

Right now, he says, his clinic is full of COVID-19 patients.

“As a provider, I would encourage you to stay at home as much as possible," Bhayani said. "We are in the middle of another surge, hospitalizations are going up, and cases are going up."

The doctor added that the best thing to do is use due diligence, keep everyone safe, and not overwhelm hospital systems.

"The best thing would be to celebrate at home with family, close family, and limit the number of people who come over to your house.”

As for all those holiday experiences Bhayani said he can't urge enough caution.

“I know that it's the holiday season and there is holiday fatigue, and people want to get out, but I tell people that if they want to be around to enjoy the holidays next year, let's do the right things now.”

Frias added that everyone should enjoy those holiday cookies, but don't eat the dough and as we all hope to celebrate the end of 2020, celebrate with a mask on.