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Tips to keep kids safe

The holidays can be fun, but they can present unique concerns when it comes to kids’ safety.

BC Children’s Hospital and BC Ambulance Service are encouraging parents and caregivers to take preventative steps to help make this a safe holiday season. Between Dec. 23, 2010 and Jan. 5, 2011, BC Ambulance Service responded to 194 calls province-wide in support of patients who were 10 years of age or younger.

Winter holiday tips are available on both the BC Children’s Hospital and BC Ambulance Service websites. Here are a few to keep in mind this season:

1. Toys: Choose items that match your child’s age, abilities, skills and interest level. Small pieces which can easily come off, and small batteries and magnets can cause choking and/or internal chemical burns. Toys with strings longer than 12 inches could strangle babies and toddlers.

2. Strings of electric lights are hazardous as they are attractive to young children. They run the risk of being strangled, burned or electrocuted if they get wrapped up in the wires or put lights in their mouths.

3. Fireplaces: A child’s skin is four times thinner than an adult’s and can burn four times faster. The glass of a gas fireplace heats up to 200˚C (400˚F) in just 6 minutes and takes 45 minutes to cool down. The pilot light of a gas fireplace may also heat the glass enough to cause a burn. Stay close to your child when in a room with a fireplace that is on or has recently been turned off. Block the fireplace with a hearth gate or screen that bolts into or around your fireplace, or put a safety gate in the doorway to the room with a fireplace.

4. Tinsel, ornaments and gift wrap: While tinsel can make a tree sparkle, it’s also a choking hazard for young children, hang them high and out of your child’s reach. Also, keep ornaments higher up on the tree.

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