Winter is my favorite season. There's a festive feeling in the air, the sports almost all revolve around snow, and there's hardly a moment where it's not socially acceptable to drop everything to cozy up with a cup of tea and a book. However, winter with kids can complicate things — especially if they're little. Kids' and babies' mouths and hands touch everything, and that can be risky. It turns out there are a lot of winter things that can be dangerous for kids if you're not careful.
It starts even with something as simple as how you dress your child. Hoodies with drawstrings pose not only a choking hazard to the youngest children, but also a strangulation hazard. The same goes for zippers and buttons they can get into their mouths to chew, according to the New York State Department of Health. The pull mechanism or the buttons can detach, posing a choking hazard for young ones. Hand-me-down or over-worn footie pajamas are also an unlikely risk. When the plastic grips on the bottoms rub down, those footie pajamas become like ice skates on slicker surfaces, even more so than socks. Yes, they're warm and cozy, but need to be checked occasionally for grip.
Although, if your kids are anything like mine, they'll rip the pajamas at the seams long before the grip fails. Kids are so hard on footie jammies. But here are 10 other winter items to look out for.
1. Holiday Plants
While the poinsettia is actually risk-free, causing only gastric upset if your child decides to chow down while you're not looking, other plants like the Christmas rose and the amaryllis are much more dangerous, according to HUS Hospital Systems. You'll want to avoid having them in your home or keep them out of your child's reach.
While using a humidifier is a great way to make the dry air of winter more comfortable, they do come with risks. There is a real danger of inhaled particulates, like bacteria and mold, and burns from the steam and water inside the basin can happen.
This one is especially timely given that it's Hanukkah as I write this. Candles need to be well-attended. According to Smart Kids 101, they are a huge fire and burn risk, and it's not just from the kids — cats are also particularly dangerous around open flames.
4. Decorative Oil Lamps
Apart from the obvious fire and burn risk that these harbor, the oil in the lamp is pretty, and often colored, making kids want to try it. It's highly poisonous, according to Poison Control.
5. Artificial Christmas Tree Fragrance Sticks
I love fresh Christmas trees, but I am highly allergic to pine sap and resin, therefore, I have a fake tree. Many people with fake trees use scented ornament sticks to provide that "this is possibly a real tree" fragrance. However, these are toxic if your baby gets a hold of one, so keep them towards the top with the rest of the ornaments. Only the parents of toddlers understand what it means to see only the top two-thirds of a tree decorated, am I right?
6. Hand Warmers
While hand and foot warmers are convenient, these little vermiculite and air-powered packs can pack a punch when it comes to getting hot quickly. It's one of those situations where a little convenience means a lot of danger. It's best to keep these away from kids.
7. Heavy Coats
While babies and kids need warmth — even more so than we do — it is possible to over-bundle your baby, putting them at risk for SIDS or run-of-the-mill dehydration. Also, you can't put them in their car seat while they're in their heavy winter coat. If there was to be an accident, that coat nullifies the protective capabilities of the harness of the car seat.
While sledding and tubing is quite possibly the most fun one can have in the winter, it's not without risk. If you take your child sledding, they must wear a helmet rated for skiing. It must be properly fitted and not a hand-me-down or secondhand. The impact from a sled collision can be deadly, according to Kids Health, so it's best to strap in.
9. Ice Melt
Ice melt is tough on skin, and can irritate a child's mouth and esophagus, as well as their gastrointestinal tract if swallowed. The combination used to make the melting salts aren't the harshest on the planet, but it's enough that it warrants a call to poison control. According to the website for poison control, if you see your child swallow any, wash their mouth out with milk and call the hotline immediately.
I know, I'm just your average skeptic feminist killjoy come to steal the fun of eating snow. But hear me out. While freshly fallen snow is mostly safe to eat, noted University of California Santa Barbara, the stuff that's been around a bit — or basically all of the snow in urban areas — is probably filled with all kinds of nasty bacteria just waiting to give your kids a few days off school and a few days on the potty, or worse. No one wants that.
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