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National Child Safety Expert, Alison Rhodes, “The Safety Mom,” is one of the country's leading child safety authorities, providing tips and advice to parents on a broad range of issues facing all children - newborns to teens.

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The Countdown to a Safe Holiday Season
by Alison Rhodes

With the holiday season approaching, it's time to trim the trees and light the candles. And while you're kids are counting down the days until they can rip open the presents, consider doing a count down yourself to a safe holiday season.

Day 10 - It's cookie making time!
Whether your kids are helping you bake a gingerbread house or just heating up a cup of hot chocolate, establish some safety rules. Make sure they understand to stay away from hot appliances or plugging in electrical appliances with wet hands.

Day 9 - Trimming the tree
Glass ornaments can easily slip from a tree and shatter into dangerous splinters. Help children create homemade decorations or use plastic and wooden ornaments.

Day 8 - Visiting friends and family
While your home might be child proofed, it's more than likely that Grandma's home will present some safety hazards. Be sure that medications and household cleaners are locked away. Consider bringing a portable gate and outlet covers along in order to secure one room for your child.

Day 7 - Deck the halls
Many of the plants associated with this time of year can be dangerous to children. The white berries in fresh mistletoe are poisonous. When eaten, the berries can cause cramps, vomiting, diarrhea and slow heartbeat. Holly berries are also considered poisonous and can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Boxwood is another plant that should be avoided as it can cause stomach pains and vomiting and large amounts can cause convulsions.

Day 6 - The magic of holiday lights
Many of our holiday decorations require electricity. Be sure that all electrical wires are taped to the wall or tied to a table leg to prevent objects from falling down.

Day 5 - Holiday shopping
Stores are more crowded than ever during the holiday season. And many distractions such as carolers and, of course, Santa Clause are on hand to entice a child to stray away from mom and dad. Be sure they know their home phone number and your cell phone number and tell them to remain where they are.

Day 4 - Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Nothing is cozier than a roaring fire but make sure children are aware of the dangers. Install a gate around the fireplace and keep matches locked away once the fire has been lit. Place all candles in holders with large diameters to contain any wax dripping.

Day 3 - Check holiday presents for mom and dad
Check all food gift baskets that you receive for choking hazards such as nuts, popcorn, peanut brittle and hard candy. Pull these items out immediately and store in a safe place. Toiletry gift items such as perfumes and soaps can also be harmful to children.

Day 2 - and holiday presents for the kids!
Be sure that any toy your child is given is age appropriate. Children under 3 years of age should not be permitted to play with any toy whose parts are less than 1-1/4 inches in diameter and 2-1/4 inches long. Always check the Consumer Product Safety Commission's website for product recalls.

Day 1 - Home for the holidays
Elegant table settings can easily become a heap of china and crystal if a toddler inadvertently pulls a tablecloth off the table. Use a festive runner in the center of the table with matching place mats instead. Holiday punches and eggnog can look enticing to a toddler and child. Be on the look out for abandoned, half-empty glasses that might be within a child's reach.

Above all, don't drink and drive to ensure a safe and happy holiday season!

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Featured Sites:

Cord Blood Registry
March of Dimes
Susan G. Komen

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