Holiday safety tips from the Montreal Children’s Hospital

How to avoid a trip to the Emergency Room

Montreal December 19, 2007 – The Montreal Children’s Hospital wishes you all a happy holiday season and reminds parents and family members to be mindful of their children. Last year during the two week holiday period, Many children were treated for injuries in the MCH ER. More than half of these injuries occurred at home and were preventable. Injuries such as head traumas and broken bones from falls, choking on small toys, and poisonings can be avoided with a little extra supervision and planning.

The Trauma Programs at The Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC urge you to take the time to keep your children and teens safe and injury free during the holidays by following the tips below:

Play safely in the home
  • If you are worried about the potential lead content of the paint used on various toys or other product recalls, visit the Consumer Product Safety website for more information ( You should take recalled toys away from your children.
  • MCH toxicologist Dr. Dominic Chalut also wants to reassure parents that there is no need to panic if they discover their child has been playing with a toy recalled because of lead paint. “Lead poisoning occurs only after prolonged exposure to the substance. There is no need to worry about lead poisoning in children who occasionally play with toys with lead paint. Their exposure to lead will be minimal.” 
  • Remember to choose toys appropriate to your child’s age and stage of development. Young children can easily swallow small parts or batteries.
  • Remember pets are not toys; dog bites are very common during the holidays. Keep a close watch on small children when they interact with dogs or other pets.
  • Falls from heights (countertops, chairs, etc.) or down stairs are a common cause of childhood injury. Do not leave babies and young children unattended on tables or countertops, even for a second.
Holiday decorations and entertaining
  • Make sure fragile Christmas tree or other decorations are out of reach of small, curious hands.
  • If you visit friends and relatives who do not have young children and therefore have not child-proofed their homes, make sure that pills and cleaning supplies are out of reach.
  • Remember poinsettia plants are poisonous; keep them out of reach of small children. The Quebec Poison Control Centre number is 1-800-463-5060.
  • Do not leave lit candles unattended and keep them well out of reach of children.
  • Supervise your children when they are lighting candles.  
  • Do not hold your child in your arms while you are cooking.
  • Keep hot beverages out of reach of your children.
Debbie Friedman, MCH Trauma Director, encourages kids and teens to be active and have fun but at the same time the goal is to make sure your children remain  trauma free and not end a great day of winter fun in the emergency department of a trauma centre.

While enjoying winter activities such as skiing, sledding, skating, snowboarding etc., the whole family should remember to:
  • Wear standardized and well-fitting protective headgear and other sport-specific equipment.
  • Check the surface of the hill for obstacles, and ensure it is designated for the activity.
  • Check ski conditions and avoid icy surfaces. Do not ski in out-of-bound areas
  • Make sure to receive proper training and instructions about the use of equipment.

Carlo Galli, Injury Prevention Program Trauma Coordinator, reminds everyone that road safety is especially important at this time of year when many people are travelling and with the large amount of snow we have had.

When driving:
  • Make sure car seats and boosters meet approved standards, are properly installed and used as per age restriction.
  • Children under the age of 13 should sit in the backseat to avoid injury from deployment of an air bag.
  • Always wear a seatbelt.
  • Adhere to traffic lights and speed limits.
  • Avoid using cell phones.
  • Do not leave a passenger in a running car. 
These tips are available in a newly published MCH brochure called Holiday Safety. Copies can be ordered by calling Terry Seguin at 514-412-4307.

On behalf of everyone at The Children’s please have a happy and safe holiday season and a healthy New Year.


For more information please contact
Lisa Dutton
Public Relations and Communications
The Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC
514 412-4307