Christmas Day Dangers

Dr. Mohammed Arsiwala, owner and medical director of Michigan Urgent Care and Occupational Health, warns families of the Christmas day dangers hidden in plain sight, and offers advice to keep the day safe.

Christmas is a time for celebrating with friends and family, beautiful decorations, and gift-giving. But the merriment can also be source danger in your own home. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are 15,000 injuries every year involving holiday decorations, toys, and gift wrapping that require emergent medical attention.

t’s an especially dangerous time for children ages three and younger. During the holidays, exploring toddlers and young children are sure to be attracted to shinny and brightly colored toys and decorations, and put almost anything in their mouth in an attempt to eat it. It’s imperative that parents, grandparents, and guardians be aware of these holiday dangers, all of which are hidden in plain sight. They are:

  • Small batteries. Pill-to-coin-shaped batteries are often used to power small ornaments, flameless candles, and small toys. Batteries contain heavy metals like zinc, mercury, silver, nickel, cadmium, and lithium making them one of the most dangerous items a child can swallow. Leakage from these caustic elements. Symptoms can include chest pain, stomach pain, nausea, and metallic taste.
  • Ribbon, bows, and large gift bags are suffocation and choking hazards. All parents of small children have seen it, the gift box or bag is often more fun than the actual gift. It is recommended that as gifts are unwrapped that all ribbon, wrapping paper and gift bags, especially plastic bags, are thrown away or moved out of the reach of children immediately.

Other holiday dangers include:

  • Breakable ornaments. Glass and ceramic ornaments are easy to break, especially if they are near a hard surface like a fireplace hearth or hard surface floor. The most obvious injury is cuts to the hands. But if a child was to bite an ornament, the injury could be more severe including cuts to the mouth and throat.
  • Artificial Snow. Artificial snow in both the aerosol and filler-type forms is a lung irritant and choking hazard. Spray-on snow from an aerosol can contain ingredients including glue, solvents and binding agents which are lung irritants that can cause difficulty breathing and can worsen asthmatic symptoms. Also causing choking and lung irritation is faux snow used as vase filler and as a part of table centerpieces. The small particles are easily inhaled or swallowed.
  • Candles. The flame and hot wax from burning candles can cause severe burns. It is highly recommended to use flameless candles placed high out of reach of children.

When there is a group of mixed-aged children, childproof your holidays with the youngest child in mind. Keep all breakable and hazardous holiday decorations well out of the reach of children. And, if you believe your child needs medical care on a holiday, it’s best to go to an urgent care or emergency department right away and not to wait for the next day.

Michigan Urgent Care clinics are open 365 days a year, including holidays, to treat all adult and pediatric illnesses and injuries. If you or a loved one has a non-life threatening injury, call or stop by one of our nine clinics located in Ann Arbor, Brighton, Canton, Detroit, Dundee, Grosse Pointe, Livonia, Novi, and Waterford. Our tenth clinic in Ferndale is coming soon!

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