The festive season is here! Christmas and the summer holidays can be a wonderful time to relax, spend time with friends and whānau, and eat some good food! But with lots of things happening, it’s important to keep you, your whānau and your home safe.
That’s why we’ve put together these ten tips for a safe and sweet holiday season.
(1) Safe BBQ’ing
Think carefully about where your barbecue, fire pits or pizza ovens are – consider moving them away from any bushes and outdoor furniture, and away from buildings and exits to prevent fire and burns. Ensure your young ones are always supervised and far away from the barbie while it’s on and think through your fire safety plan if accidents do happen.
(2) Check those fire alarms and enjoy Christmas lights safely
Make sure your indoor smoke alarms have charged batteries and are functioning properly before the oven gets a good use over Christmas!
When decorating, have a good look at those Christmas lights – make sure the plugs and the voltage are appropriate for New Zealand power sockets, and check for any loose or fraying wires. If something looks or feels a bit unsafe, get an electrician to look over them. It’s also important not to overdo power points – if sockets and multiplugs are getting a bit hot, consider spreading your lights around the house a bit more, or cut down on volume.
(3) Prevent choking
Do a quick sweep every now and again of your living areas, floors, and other key places your little ones can reach, for hazards more specific to the Christmas season.
Keep the following things – and any other small items and toys like Lego – well out of reach or tucked away until your little ones are a bit older!
- button batteries for lights and toys
- shreds of wrapping paper
- Christmas tree shedding
- Small ornaments and baubles
- Shopping tags
- small trinkets inside Christmas crackers
- things that could get tangled (Christmas lights, tinsel, ribbons and string)
- plastic bags and plasticky gift wrap that could prevent breathing
(4) Visiting friends and whānau
If you’re planning on spending time with friends and whānau at their places, think through what you need to do to keep your little ones safe in a place that may not already be baby or tamariki-friendly. Keep close supervision around pets and check in with your hosts about whether keeping dogs in a different space or on leads is a good move.
(5) Overstimulation and safe sleeping
Keep an eye out for signs of overstimulation (such as unusual clinginess, tears or frustration) in your pēpi when around large groups and consider having a space for them to nap, rest or calm down – or just know when it’s time to go home!
If you do need a place for naps, make sure you have a safe portacot or similar sleeping set-up with you; check that curtains and blind cords are out of your young one’s reach, and that the room is a comfortable sleeping temperature.
If you normally choose to co-sleep with your baby – please don’t share a bed with your pēpi if you’ve been drinking alcohol. They are safest in a wahakura, Moses basket or separate bassinet or cot.
You can visit this page for more advice on safe sleeping practices.
(6) Check your car before your road trips
Summer is an important time to do a thorough maintenance check on your vehicle before you hit the road – ensure your WOF, registration and RUCs are up to date, and check that other basic things like oil, tyre pressure and wiper fluid are all topped up.
When packing cars for road trips, ensure there are no loose items that could fall or break and pose a hazard for the kids in the back, and make sure key items like snacks, activities, extra clothing layers and drink bottles are easily accessible to make for a smoother ride.
(7) Check your car seat
If car seats move more than a couple of centimeters when you push them, they need to be secured more tightly. Check in with a technician if the instructions aren’t quite clear. Similarly, make a habit of checking seat belts are snug and secure enough using the ‘pinch test’ – if you can pinch any excess seatbelt together with your fingers when it’s secured over your little one, it needs to be adjusted to fit more snugly.
Babies need to be in rear-facing car seats in the back seat, and young children need to sit in a car seat or booster seat until seven years old, or until tall enough to fit the seat belt across their shoulders and hips comfortably as designed.
Never leave a baby in the car, even for a minute or two – it’s not safe for several reasons, including the risk of the inside of the car getting too hot.
(8) Stay safe in and around water
Keeping kids safe around water is paramount over the holidays – kids require total supervision around any form of water, whether it’s new or familiar. Make sure you have enough adult back-up for pool and beach days with your little ones (call up friends and whānau to join you!) and consider discussing boundaries with slightly older kids about water safety when it’s time to swim and when it’s not. Life jackets are legally required for anyone out on the water (think boats) and might not be a bad idea for kids in general use – but it’s not a replacement for complete supervision.
(9) Sun safety
Practice good sun safety by applying SPF50 sunscreen to you and your whānau twenty minutes before going in the sun, and trying to cover up with clothing, hats and sunglasses to avoid the worst of it.
Opt for a sunscreen for sensitive skin if you think your pēpi would benefit and keep them in the shade always. Avoid the sunniest parts of the day if you can. If your kids do get sunburnt, hydration is key, as well as shade, rest, moisturising and child-friendly pain relief, if necessary, but check with a doctor if you’re concerned.
(10) Bites and stings
Watch for bites and stings from insects, plants, and jellyfish too – flush any wounds with water and see a doctor if you’re concerned. HealthLine (0800 611 116) and the National Poisons Centre (0800 764 766) are good non-urgent resources for information if you’re not sure what you need to do next or the signs to look out for.
Helensville Birthing Centre stays open year-round for birthing and postnatal stays.
From all of us at the Centre, we wish you a safe and Meri Kirihimete.