Dec 20

Keeping safe over Christmas

Buying presents

Buying presents for your kids is fun for everyone but it’s important to make sure that the toys you buy are safe.

  • Always head to good retailers that you’ve heard of and have a good reputation. Markets or new, temporary shops often sell illegally imported toys that often don’t meet strict toy safety requirements. For example, trading standards officers have issued warnings about light-up fidget spinners where the battery is easily accessible to children. Whilst such toys may seem like a bargain, they may not be built to safe standards and could be dangerous for little ones.
  • Make sure you look at the age range on the toy packaging, as babies and toddlers can choke on small parts or swallow harmful parts of the toy. Toys that are not meant for young children are clearly marked.

 

Focus on: Button battery safety

 

These tiny, button-shaped batteries are found in a range of gadgets and household items year-round. But in the lead up to Christmas, the risk of a child getting hold of them, and potentially ingesting them, escalates. Novelty items such as flashing and musical Santa hats, Christmas cards, fake tea lights (flameless candles) and decorations all flood the market and make their way into our homes. Unfortunately, these just the kind of items that children adore playing with.

 

Button batteries are also found in many children’s toys and books. But while batteries in children’s products are covered by safety regulations (they are required to have a screwed-down cover) novelty items of the sort found at Christmas aren’t, and so may pose a bigger risk to children:

If a button battery is swallowed and gets stuck in the throat or gullet, the electrical charge from a button battery creates caustic soda inside the body. This can burn a hole through the throat and can lead to serious internal bleeding and death.

Remember, for toys, batteries should either be enclosed by a screw and a secure compartment or need two independent or simultaneous movements to open the battery compartment. But remember that older children may still be able to open secure battery compartments.

 

If you haven’t seen it before, or need to be reminded of the risks that button batteries pose then watch this personal story of a father, George, from Hampshire whose toddler Francesca sadly died after swallowing a button battery.

 

 

Other Christmas toy tips

  • On the big day itself, make sure stairs are free from clutter. Children will be rushing around to find visitors, open presents and play with their new toys, so remove things that could cause a bad fall down stairs.
  • Look out for small things that young children can choke on. Put small decorations high out of reach, tidy away small plastic toys from crackers and put small batteries (particularly the round, silver button batteries) out of reach of little fingers.

Visitors

  • Make sure visitors to the house, such as grandparents, don’t leave medicines in places where children can find them, for example in handbags or counted out on bedside cabinets. Medicines are the most common cause of accidental poisoning in children, with everyday painkillers a frequent culprit.
  • If you’re staying with relatives or friends over Christmas, remember that the top bunk of bunk beds can be dangerous for children under six. And bear in mind that safety items you might have at home, such as stair gates and cupboard locks, might not be available where you are staying.

Food and drink

  • The kitchen can be a hectic place on Christmas day. So keep young children out of the kitchen while you’re preparing Christmas dinner and all the trimmings, to avoid burns and scalds. One in ten children’s accidents happen in the kitchen.
  • Clear away any bottles of alcohol and the last dregs of drinks left in glasses as even small amounts of alcohol can poison young children.

Christmas decorations

  • Keep candles away from Christmas trees and decorations. And don’t hang decorations from lights and heaters, as they can catch alight and burn easily.
  • Remember to turn off fairy lights and blow out candles before heading to bed. And check that your smoke alarms are working, so there’s time to get out if a fire does start.
NSPCC
NHS South London
Met Police
NHS Croydon Health Services
NHS Croydon Clinical
Safer London