Southeast Kansas Multi-County 
Health Departments

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Ask A Nurse

Alice Maffett, RN

Bourbon County
Public Health Hurse

Christmas Safety

Q: Christmas time cooking is always very hectic. How can I make it safer for my younger children to participate?

A: When it comes to keeping little ones protected from burns or injury during Christmas cooking/food preparation, if your children are old enough, give them kitchen chores that won’t require them to be near the stove/oven, such as, mixing/stirring ingredients, setting the table, or arranging veggies on a tray. If your children are too young for these tasks, establish a 3-foot safety zone away from the stove/oven by utilizing baby gates or other barriers. This will establish an area where they can watch but remain safe during the busy cooking periods.

Q: I love to decorate with poinsettias during the holidays. Are they safe to have around small children?

A: It is a popular misconception that poinsettias are poisonous, but they are not as toxic as once believed. If eaten, it’s unlikely to cause death, but instead it could cause an upset stomach or burning in your mouth. Some potentially poisonous holiday plants are: Mistletoe, Holly, Christmas Rose, and Jerusalem Cherry. We can never be too safe, so it is best to keep plants and flowers out of reach of young children and pets.

Q: I’ve heard that the musical greeting cards, which contain button batteries are dangerous. Is that true?

A: Musical greeting cards are made with coin sized lithium batteries. These could be easily pulled out of the card and swallowed by young children. Young children could have these batteries then lodged in their esophagus. The saliva triggers an electric current that causes a chemical reaction that can severely burn their esophagus. If a child has swallowed a battery, call 911 or take the child to the emergency room immediately.

Taking these precautions during this holiday time can help make your Christmas a safe and happy holiday for you and your family. 

Merry Christmas!