“Tis the season, and you’re looking forward to spending the holidays with your family. During this festive time of year, you and your family are making memories to last a lifetime. By taking a few precautions, you can increase the odds that the holidays are a safe and happy time for everyone involved.

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Holiday Outings with Kids

There are so many activities going on during the holiday season, and you want to enjoy them with your children. Many of these outings involve crowds, and you don’t want to become separated accidentally from your child. Put bright clothes on your children so you can see them easily. If you have a toddler, consider using a harness if they tend to run off. Many available toddler harnesses are designed to look like a lion’s tail or similar cute appendage, so your little one may find wearing the harness sort of like a costume.

Don’t let small children use a restroom by themselves, and wait outside when opposite sex older children use the facilities. Public bathrooms are among the places child molesters often lurk.

If your child does get lost, tell them to approach a security guard to help find you, or, failing that, a woman. While that is a sexist approach, potential child molesters are more likely male than female. Also tell your child to call out your first names, rather than just Mum or Dad, so you if nearby you can immediately identify your child over a hubbub of “Mummies” and “Daddies.”

Holiday Travel and Kids

For many families, holidays involve a considerable amount of travel. Whether it’s to the beach, grandmother’s house, or a special holiday destination, Australians are on the go at Christmas. That means more risk on the roads, due to additional traffic volume, more people driving in unfamiliar places and, sad to say, more people driving while under the influence of alcohol. Protect yourself and your family by carefully planning your trip, and not driving when you are tired. Check your vehicle thoroughly before embarking, so that tyre tread and pressure, engine fluids, lights and brakes are all in good working order. If you have any doubts, take your car to the mechanic before setting out. If your holiday trip involves camping, make sure all the attachments for your caravan or trailer are in good order and secure.

A well-planned trip doesn’t necessarily involve taking the fastest route, but the safest. Try to take a break at least every two hours while on a long road trip. Keep your kids well-fortified with snacks, games and/or videos they can watch en route. Always wear your seat belt and check to see that your children are either buckled in or are secure in their car seats.

While you’re away, make sure your house is safe. Unfortunately, the holiday season is also prime burglary season, as thieves keep note of houses appearing unoccupied. Devise ways to make it look as if someone is home, via using timers or your devices to turn lights off and on, and keep the radio or TV on low volume. Ask a neighbor to collect your mail, or contact the post office to have it held for you. If you another car, leave it in the driveway to give the impression someone is home.

Holiday Decorations and Safety

Nothing says Christmas like a beautifully trimmed tree and holiday decorations, but some seasonal decorations can pose a safety threat. If you celebrate with a real tree, make sure to water it regularly, at least every other day. Without proper watering, the needles may dry out, and this poses a fire hazard. It also means you’ll have unattractive brown needles scattered in the vicinity of the tree and possibly tracked throughout the house.

When it comes to tree decoration, keep the ages of your kids in mind. If you have small children, who may put objects in their mouths, put safe, non-toxic ornaments near the bottom of the tree. Save the breakable ornaments, or those with metal hooks, for the higher parts of the tree where little hands can’t reach them.

As a parent, you know you must take special care when it comes to holiday candles. For best results, avoid lit candles if your kids are young. If your children are older and unlikely to accidentally knock over or pull down a candle, keep candles lit only when people are home and make sure they are extinguished before going to bed. Keep lit candles a minimum of 1 foot from any flammable object.

Outside, use only lights and extension cords approved for outdoor use. Keep bulbs away from any easily ignited material. Indoors and outdoors, replace any Christmas lights with broken cords or loose bulbs. As you know, Christmas and bushfire season are synonymous, so take extra safety precautions by trimming tree branches near the house, keep combustible material far from your dwelling, and clear up any potential fuel around your home and yard.

Toys and Games

When you think back on your childhood, your Christmas memories may prove among your strongest. You want to create great memories for your children by providing them with the toys and games they desire, but it’s critical to ensure that these items are age appropriate. Before buying a toy or game, read the information about it to make sure it is a suitable gift for your child’s current abilities.

If you have little children, it’s important to keep them away from choking hazards that small game pieces or other tiny objects may become. While you wouldn’t purchase a game or toy containing such hazards for that child, you may have an older child who wants such an object. Once your older child opens that gift, instruct them to keep it out of the way of younger siblings, and explain why.

A Day at the Beach

Many families celebrate Christmas or Boxing Day at the beach with a barbie. While you must protect your kids the same way, you would on any other beach day, the holiday brings more distractions. Clean and check your barbecue grill beforehand, and inspect gas hoses to see if they are leaking. Keep young children away from the barbecue or any hot, discarded coals. While everyone should wear sunscreen to protect themselves from the sun’s rays, it’s especially important for the delicate skin of babies, toddlers and young children. Severe sunburns early in life can lead to skin cancer later on.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations

Ring in 2019 responsibly. That means avoiding too much alcohol consumption, and using a designated driver if you are out on the town. Another option is celebrating at a club or restaurant with a hotel nearby, so you don’t have to worry about driving home. If you’re hosting a New Year’s Eve celebration at home, it’s likely the kids are in bed by the time the party gets started, but after your guests leave, throw out any leftover drinks so there’s no chance an early rising child can sample an alcoholic beverage.