The holidays are almost here. Play safe to avoid coming to the ER

We all know the excitement for children of writing wish lists and counting down the days until they can open their gifts. But have you ever wondered what would happen if you had to visit the ER because of one of those toys?

According to Dr. Dominic Chalut, Director of Medical Emergency at the Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH), between December 23 and January 3, the ER sees about 250 to 300 patients every day,among them victims of avoidable accidents like ingestion of small objects, sport-related injuries, eye injuries and cranial traumas.

Debbie Friedman, MCH Trauma and Injury Prevention Program Director says that "People believe that most accidental injuries couldn’t have been avoided. Experts in trauma care believe that at least 90 percent of non-intentional injuries could have been prevented. 

Friedman and Dr. Chalut agree that the best way to avoid a ER visit that could spoil the holidays is to play safe. Here are some useful tips they offer:

How to avoid ingestion of objects:
  • Make sure that toys are age appropriate. For example, a ten-month-old toddler shouldn’t play with toys that have small pieces.
  • Be sure tree ornaments that are fragile or contain small parts are out of reach of young children.
  • If a toy calls for parental supervision, it is important for parents to take this seriously.

How to avoid lacerations and eye injuries:
  • Be patient: If you have to detach toys from their packaging with a cutting object, take your time. Do it carefully.
  • Be careful with toys that have sharp edges. Be sure that they are age appropriate.

How to avoid falls:
  • Be sure children are secure in their strollers and high chairs.`
  • Never leave a child unattended on a counter or table, even if it is for just a couple of seconds.
  • In some winter sports, falling is inevitable. Make sure your child has proper equipment that will protect his head, wrists, hand and feet.

How to avoid burns:
  • Keep decorative candles out of children’s reach.
  • Adults should not hold hot beverages while standing around children.
  • Don’t hold your child in your arms while cooking.
  • If you have a natural tree, water it often to reduce the risk of fire.
  • Make sure that Christmas tree lights, Chanukah menorah or outdoor electric lights are in good working order.
  • Do not overload extension cords with too many plugs.

More advice
  • Be on the lookout for pills left out at homes of relatives who are not used to having young children around.
  • Dogs are not toys; if you give your child a puppy close supervision is required.
  • Poinsettias are beautiful but poisonous if ingested. Keep them out of reach of children.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Never drive and use your cell phone.
  • Adhere to speed limits.
Find gift ideas, read our Fun and Safety article on toys