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Keep Your Child Safe Around Holiday Lights

Christmas Lights
Your curious child often wants to explore the holiday lights and discover what makes them twinkle. Even though your tot doesn't understand that electricity poses a serious safety risk, you do. How can you help your child to stay safe during the holidays? Look at the easy ways to reduce seasonal electricity-related risks.

Act Like a Child

How can you anticipate what your child will get into? Sometimes you can't. But acting like a child can help you to spot potentially dangerous areas that you may not have noticed.
This doesn't mean you need to throw a toddler-like tantrum or play with toys. Instead, do these:
  • Crawl the space. Get down on your child's level and crawl through your home. This can help you to find outlets, cords, and other electrical issues that you may not have released were within your child's reach.
  • Look for standouts. Anything that sparkles, twinkles, shimmers, or in any other way lights up can entice a young child.
  • Find toy mimics. Some electrical devices may look like playthings to your child. In your child's eyes, a power cord might equal a jump rope or a power strip can look like a puzzle.
Make changes as needed, based on what your act-like-a-child exploration finds.

Read the Rules

Give your young child a manageable list of holiday-time electrical safety rules. Consider your child's age and ability to understand (and retain) the information before rolling out a lengthy list. Keep it simple, including major rules such as:
  • Never touch the cord. The string lights on the tree have a cord. So do the light-up Santa, flameless candles, and other twinkling holiday décor. Help your child understand that touching any cord is a major no-no.
  • Never touch the lightbulbs. The bright lights often tempt young children to touch or even chew on them. Again, tell your tot never to touch. This one might take some almost-constant reminding.
  • Don't play around the lights. Whether your child is inside or out, they need to avoid the lights and cords. Create accessible play spaces that are far from the lights and holiday décor.
For a young child to forget the rules is completely normal. If your tot struggles to remember the list, use a pictorial version. Make a poster, hang pictures, or use illustrated storybooks as constant reminders.
Some national organizations (such as Electrical Safety Foundation International) and local fire departments have holiday electrical safety resources, worksheets, and printables for parents with young children.

Use Barriers

When words don't work, you need a physical solution. Following your child around and constantly removing them from the electricity source isn't practical. A serious accident can happen within seconds.
If your child can't stop themselves from touching twinkle lights, power strips, and electrical cords, try a barrier. Baby gates and strategic planning allow you to decorate your home for the holidays while reducing the risks associated with electrical elements.
Try these easy barrier ideas for childproofing your holiday displays:
  • Gate around the tree. Use an extended gate to encircle the entire tree. Make it festive and decorate the exterior with wrapping paper, fabric, or any other child-friendly décor.
  • Tabletop tree. Place the tree, and the rest of the décor, above your child's reach. Please note that this trick won't work if your child is a climber.
  • Outdoor barrier. Keep your child away from outdoor lighting displays with plastic baby gates (wooden versions may not stand up to the elements) or with everything on a second-story level.
Even though a barrier can help to reduce the risks of out-in-the-open electrical items, this isn't a complete solution. Supervision is always necessary. Never leave your young child unsupervised.
Do you need pre-holiday electrical repairs or upgrades? Contact Express Electrical Service for more information.
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