The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate your friends and family. Whether you are entertaining inside the cozy comfort of your home, gathering at the homes of friends and family, or travelling to escape the cold, these tips can help prevent injuries and ensure a safe and joyous holiday season!

Entertaining with young children

  • Supervision is key - Whether you are the host or a guest, at the start of get-togethers, talk about who is going to watch the children. Take turns, so everyone gets time to relax. Otherwise family and friends may assume that someone else is watching the young ones when no one really is.
  • Out of reach - Keep purses and bags out of toddlers’ reach. They may hold dangerous items, such as medication, or a lighter, cosmetics, etc.
  • Falls – Keep tripping hazards such as lights, cords, holiday décor and furniture out of the way of active young children

Toy safety

Using unsafe toys - or using toys in unsafe ways - can put a child at risk for illness or injury. Canadians are advised to use the following safety tips to guide their toy purchases:

  • Purchase age appropriate toys - as toys for older children may contain small parts or other hazards that may make them unsafe for young children.
  • Read the labels - follow the age labels, warnings, safety messages and assembly instructions that come with a toy.
  • Look for sturdy, well-made toys.
  • Look for toys that come with contact information for the manufacturer or importer.

 And 

  • Once the toys are at home, parents and caregivers should continue to be vigilant. For example, toys should be checked often for hazards like loose parts, broken pieces or sharp edges and any weak or damaged toys should be repaired or discarded.
  • Beware of choking hazards - All toy packaging, such as plastic wrap, foam, staples, ties and temporary plastic films should be removed and thrown away.
  • Ensure battery-operated toys are in good-condition and that the batteries are not accessible. If swallowed, button-type batteries can cause internal chemical burns or poisoning.
  • Check out these child injury prevention tips from Parachute.

See Additional resources below for information on product recalls and toy safety

Christmas trees and plants

  • Toddlers are curious and active. It’s natural for them to want to explore the tree and the decorations by touching, grabbing and trying to put ornaments in their mouth. 
  • Even with preschool children, it’s advisable to have soft, unbreakable decorations, such as those made of felt.
  • The safest option is to have the tree out of reach. Consider a small tabletop tree that is beyond a child’s grasp and doesn’t have a hanging tablecloth underneath that can be pulled.
  • Put the tree in a room with a safety gate so the child can see, but not touch the tree.
  • Compromising on holiday décor for a couple of years can ensure a more relaxing holiday.
  • Keep holiday plants out of reach as well. Mistletoe and holly are poisonous and can cause stomach upset.
  • Check out these child injury prevention tips from Parachute.

Candles

  • Firefighters dislike candles and with good reason.  An open flame is always a potential fire hazard, whether you have young children or not. Consider not using candles, as they are one of the most common causes of household fires. 
  • If you do use candles, keep them well beyond the reach of children, and blow them out before leaving the room. 
  • Place candles in very sturdy holders that aren’t likely to tip, and place them away from any flammable materials, such as curtains or tablecloths.
  • Check out Parachute’s collection of information on fire safety.

Fireplaces

  • Gas fireplaces can easily burn little hands when the glass barrier is touched. The glass can heat up to over 200C (400F) in about six minutes and it takes an average of 45 minutes for the fireplace to cool down to a safe temperature after the fire has been extinguished. Install safety gates to keep your child at a safe distance. Consider not using the fireplace if you have young children, or only using it when the children have gone to sleep for the evening. Turn off the unit completely, including the pilot flame, whenever it is not in use.
  • Check out Parachute’s collection of information on gas fireplaces.

Holiday lights

  • Children can suffer electrical burns from touching hot lights, putting them in their mouths, or chewing on electrical cords. Holiday lights and electrical cords should be in good repair and out of children’s reach.
  • Use furniture to physically distance children from electrical components such as cords, outlets.
  • Outdoor lights – exercise caution when installing lights outdoors when lighting trees or putting up holiday lights. Unsafe ladders, slippery roofs, exposed electrical outlets and power lines around trees can all potentially cause injuries.
  • See Parachute’s collection of information on electrical safety.

Choking hazards

  • An estimated 44 children age 14 and under die every year in Canada from choking, suffocation and strangulation and many more are hospitalized for serious injuries. Almost half of the children hospitalized have choked on food.
  • Hard candies, nuts, popcorn, hot dogs and raw carrots are a choking hazard for children under three years of age. Keep these food items out of reach, and don’t put out bowls of nuts and candies where children can access them.
  • It’s a good idea to have children sit down while eating. Walking or running while eating is more likely to cause choking.
  • Check out these child injury prevention tips from Parachute.

Holiday Travel

Traveling this holiday season?  Whether you are taking a road trip this holiday season or just driving around town, winter combined with the holiday season can present tricky conditions. See our Vacation Safety page for travel tips.

Additional Resources