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Prepare for young guests

December 10, 2012
The Daily News

Over the river and through the woods...

The words conjure warm memories of old-fashioned family gatherings.

What could be better than Christmas at the grandparents' home?

But taking young children for visits away from their childproof home can be stressful for parents.

New surroundings inspire kids to touch, test and even taste whatever they find.

Such curiosity is natural. But it can make a visit anything but relaxing.

New grandparents play a special role in the lives of children, but they sometimes they are not prepared for their new roles.

With the right precautions, a stay at Grandma and Grandpa's can be safe for the grandchildren and easier for the parents.

The key, obviously, is to child-proof the grandparents' home.

What steps can parents and grandparents take to ensure the safety of their family legacy?

Though many safety issues cannot be solved without a full room-by-room overhaul, there are several things that parents and grandparents can do to alleviate some obvious hazards.

Use this childproofing checklist for suggestions:

- Move fragile or breakable items to higher spots in the room.

- Move houseplants to out-of-reach areas. Even if nontoxic, leaves, flowers and berries can pose choking hazards.

- Remove tablecloths or table runners. These can be pulled off the table, taking accessories with them.

- Move the kitchen knife block to a high pantry or cupboard shelf.

- Wind up dangling drapery cords.

- Move any medications, vitamins and hazardous kitchen and bathroom products to out-of reach or locked cabinets.

Additionally, parents can avoid some potential dangers by taking along a few portable safety items for on-the-spot childproofing, such as:

- Removable cabinet locks.

- Electrical outlet caps.

- Door handle guards.

- Finger-pinch door guards.

- Drapery cord wind-ups.

Other necessary items might include:

- A nightlight.

- Child's chair (for toddlers and preschoolers).

- Baby fever reducer/pain reliever.

- Baby thermometer.

- Booster seat or high chair that straps to a regular dining chair.

- Portable, pressure-mounted safety gate.

- Bed siderails.

- Playpen, portable crib or toddler trundle.

Additionally, there are things parents and grandparents can do to ensure holiday safety:

- If the entire family helps during the holiday meal, it is crucial to make sure children are supervised when cooking in the kitchen. Make certain to provide proper instructions for handling all utensils and equipment, and make sure children are not allowed to touch sharp or hot objects.

- When cooking that big holiday meal, make sure to turn all handles inward so pots and pans won't be pulled or knocked off the stove.

- Around the holidays, children can easily be confused between food and decorations, as holiday decorations tend to be colorful and accessible - just like candy. Parents should be careful to place these decorations out of reach of young children, so little ones are not tempted to touch, pull on, chew or throw these often-breakable items.

- Never leave candles or burning fireplaces unattended. Also, be sure to turn off tree lights or blow out burning candles before going to bed - and do not place candles near draperies or anything that might easily catch fire.

- Make sure children don't put ornaments, tinsel or other decorations in their mouths. Choose non-lead tinsel in case of accidental ingestion. Also, if using 'angel hair,' place it higher on the Christmas tree to avoid skin and eye irritation, since it is made from spun glass.

- Make sure that all gifts are age appropriate. Avoid gifts with small parts or batteries for young children to avoid accidental choking. Keep children away from plastic shopping bags, wrappings, strings or bows for the same reason. In fact, some gift-wrap contains lead, so make sure to dispose of it promptly to avoid children chewing on it.

- Make sure children take breaks to warm up indoors if playing outside in snow or cold temperatures. Kids are more susceptible to hypothermia because of their small size - they have less heat-producing volume of muscle and vital organs in proportion to their heat-radiating skin surface.



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