Tips for a Safe and Fun Holiday Season

‘Tis the season to be jolly! To keep your holidays festive – and safe – this year, CHOC Children’s recommends these simple precautions to enjoy a magical season with your children:

Food Safety

  • Wash hands before, during and after food preparation.
  • Keep baking ingredients such as vanilla and almond extract out of your children’s reach.
  • Use soap, water and a paper towel to clean surfaces that have touched raw meat, fish or poultry.
  •  Keep alcoholic beverages and containers out of your children’s reach.
  •  Watch for holly and mistletoe berries that could fall into your child’s  path — they are poisonous.

Christmas Trees and Decorations

  • If your family purchases a real tree, make sure to check the tree’s freshness. Keep it away from fireplaces or other heating sources.
  • Turn off the tree lights before leaving the tree in an unattended room.
  • Keep small ornaments and tinsel out of reach. Avoid ornaments that look like food or candy.
  • Keep burning candles, matches and lighters out of your children’s reach.
  • Once gifts are opened, remove all bags, gift wraps and bows from tree and fireplace areas. These items can pose suffocation, a choking or fire hazard, to small children.
  • Inspect lights for exposed or frayed cords.


  • Select age-appropriate toys. Keep in mind the child’s abilities and developmental stage. Avoid those with small, removable parts that may pose a choking risk for young children.
  • When buying bicycles, scooters, skateboards or skates, remember to include helmets and appropriate protective equipment.
  • Be aware of recalls on toys, furniture and jewelry.

The holidays are an enjoyable time of the year for most families; hopefully, with these easy-to-follow tips, your family can enjoy a truly memorable season.

Holiday Safety Tips for your Baby Sitter

Holiday parties.  Shopping.  Even just an hour away to de-stress.  All are reasons you may need a baby sitter this season. Here are a few, easy tips for your baby sitter to ensure a safe holiday season: 

  • Leave emergency phone numbers by the phone.  Write down your cell phone number, as well as the contact information of a nearby neighbor.
  • Show the baby sitter where your first-aid kit is located.
  • Discuss how to handle common emergencies.
  • If you are going to be gone for the evening, include your child’s schedule, including dinner and bedtimes.

The holiday season is a fun, yet busy time of the year for most families. Hopefully, by planning in advance with these easy tips, you can rest assured your little ones will be safe at home, while you take some time for yourself to enjoy the holiday spirit.

Summer is coming – please practice water safety!

School is almost out, and I know that kids love to hit the pool, lake or beach during their summer vacations.  I urge all adults to follow the following water safety tips to ensure a safe and memorable summer:

  • Never leave children alone in or near water, even a shallow wading pool.  Children can drown in as little as one inch of water and it can happen in a matter of seconds. A child will lose consciousness two minutes after submersion, with irreversible brain damage occurring within four to six minutes.
  • Assign a “water watcher” who knows how to swim and can provide supervision of children in the water.
  •  Place pool safety barriers, such as isolation fences, self-closing and self-latching locks, and pool covers, between your child and the pool.
  •  Never assume your child is “drown-proof,” even if the child has had swimming lessons.
  • Place a phone, life-saving ring and shepherds hook at poolside.
  • Remove toys in and around the pool when it’s not in use to avoid any temptation for your child.
  • Drain waters from wading pools and water buckets when not being used.
  • Flotation devices, such as water wings, are considered toys and are not a substitute for adult supervision.
  • Water safety also includes sun safety.  Make sure your children are wearing waterproof sunscreen of at least SPF 30.  Protect feet from hot sand and sharp objects by having them wear water-safe shoes.

To learn more about water safety or to have a staff member from CHOC Children’s Community Education Department come to your group of parents and caregivers of children under the age of 5, please call 714-532-8887.  This program is generously provided by the CA Kids Plate Program.

April is Sports Safety Month!

Like all fun-loving bears, I enjoy a good game of baseball during Springtime! Of course, we always need to play safe and avoid injuries. Did you know that with proper equipment and extra attention to stretching and conditioning, many injuries can be prevented? Dr. John Schlechter a specialist with the CHOC Children’s Orthopaedic Institute, sent me the following tips to share with parents to help keep children safe.

Head Injuries: To prevent severe head injury, the use of a helmet during batting is required. To ensure a proper fit, the circumference of your child’s head in centimeters should be measured and compared with the size listed on the helmet. Be sure the helmet fits your child’s head snugly. It should be level, with two fingers’ width of space between the eyebrow and helmet. Never purchase an oversized helmet in hopes your child will grow into it.

Playing Fields: Level playing fields free of debris and severe irregularities are essential to prevent falls and lower extremity injuries. Break away or detachable bases should be installed to prevent foot and ankle injuries.

Pitcher Position: The shoulder and elbow of a thrower/pitcher is at risk for an injury if insufficient stretching, warm-up or improper mechanics, and overuse occurs. Using proper technique and limiting pitch count and the type of pitch thrown can dramatically decrease the risk that your child could suffer from an injury. Thanks to the work performed at the American Sports Medicine Institute, guidelines for age- based pitch counts and pitch type have been developed and should be implemented and followed in your local league. For more information, visit

Put Children’s Safety on Top of Holiday Wish List

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and the health and well being of children top my wish list.  The injury prevention experts in CHOC’s Community Education Department tell me that the holiday season can be a dangerous time for kids.  Routines are interrupted, new hazards are introduced into the home, and parents are often distracted by the hustle and bustle of this time of year.  Here are a few helpful tips that I want to pass along to all moms, dads and caregivers to help keep the ‘jingle’ in the holiday season:

  • When baking your yummy goodies, be sure to keep ingredients, like vanilla and almond extract, out of children’s reach.  It’s also a good idea to keep those round hard foods and candies out of kids’ reach.
  • Keep a close eye on kids in the kitchen.
  • Make sure alcoholic beverages are out of reach of your little ones.
  • Avoid putting fragile ornaments, especially those with small detachable parts or metal hooks, on the lower branches of the Christmas tree and don’t use ornaments that look like food or candy.
  • Watch for holly and mistletoe berries that may have fallen into your child’s path; they are very poisonous.  Poinsettias are not poisonous but can cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal distress if digested.
  • Keep guests’ purses away from curious little ones.
  • Supervise children around the fireplace and those festive candles.

Hope you and your loves ones enjoy a magical – and safe holiday!