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Holiday first: Getting ready for Santa and grandkids

This will be a special Christmas in our household as we witness our first grandchild’s reaction to the colors, sights and smells of a terrific time of year.

Not only is 11-month-old Myles an extremely quick crawler, but he also possesses a set of mitts that can snatch most any item from a coffee table. After 25 years, we’ve re-instated our kid-proofing measures and removed all fragile pieces, padded low-lying table corners, and plugged electrical outlets with plastic stoppers.

Some of our friends are not as concerned about their young visitors, but Safe Kids Worldwide provides some data to support our actions: In 2012, 3,270 children 19 and under were seen in emergency rooms for injuries caused by non-electric Christmas decorations, like broken ornaments. In 2011, an estimated 193,200 children were treated in an emergency room for a toy-related injury.

With the help of Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization dedicated to preventing injuries in children, here are some holiday tips that work in any season:

Assign heirloom ornaments a higher place: Kids are curious and will want to play with the ornaments on the tree. Hence, take the bauble grandma bought in Bethlehem and move it to a higher branch. Move the ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks towards the top of the tree. That makes room at the bottom for the ones that are safer for young kids. Natural trees look beautiful and smell great, but if they’re not watered regularly, needles can dry out and pose a potential fire hazard. Make sure your tree has plenty of water by checking it regularly.

Are gifts age appropriate? Consider your child’s age when purchasing a toy or game this holiday season. It’s worth a second to read the instructions and warning labels to make sure the gift is just right. Before you’ve settled on the perfect toy, check to make sure there aren’t any small parts or other potential choking hazards. If a child’s heart is set on a bike, skateboard or scooter this holiday season, be sure to include a helmet to keep them safe while they’re having fun.

Blow out candles, store matches: Basic stuff, but holiday distractions often take our minds elsewhere. Keep holiday candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn, and don’t forget to blow them out when you leave the room or before you go to sleep. Make a habit of placing matches and lighters in a safe place, out of children’s reach. Avoid novelty lighters or barbeque starters that look like toys.

When in doubt, stash the plant: Plants can spruce up your holiday decorating, but keep those that may be poisonous out of reach of children or pets. This includes mistletoe berries, holly berry, and poinsettias. In a poison emergency, call the national Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Put it on the back burner: Kids love to reach, so to prevent burns from hot holiday food or liquid spills, simply use the back burner of your stove and turn pot handles away from the edge. Also, show older, responsible kids how to cook safely. Remind them never to leave the kitchen while they’re using the stove or oven. Instruct older kids to use oven mitts or potholders to remove items from the oven or stove and teach them how to properly use a microwave.

Check the car seat: Seventy-three percent of car seats are not used or installed correctly. So before you pack the little guy off to see the neighborhood lights, check the car seat. Also, remember kids who have outgrown a forward-facing harness seat are not ready for a seat belt or front seat. They are safest in a booster seat that enables the adult seat belt to fit properly. Even when children have graduated from booster seats, they should remain in the back seat until they reach the age of 13.

Thirteen? Myles will be 6-foot-3 by then.

Holiday gift idea: Sports fan? History buff? Mystery reader? Tom Kelly’s new novel “Cold Crossover” is now available in print at bookstores everywhere and in both print and Ebook form from a variety of digital outlets. Follow real estate agent and former basketball coach Ernie Creekmore as investigates the disappearance of his star player on a late-night boat. Check out the national reviews and put “Cold Crossove” on your list.

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