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City of Kansas City, Mo.

CONTACT: Mary Charles, city communications officer, (816) 513-1356


City urges holiday safety and awareness

The City of Kansas City, Mo., Health Department’s Healthy Homes Initiative urges families to protect themselves during the holiday season and offers safety advice.

“The holidays are meant to be a happy time spent with family and celebrating long-held traditions,” said Amy Roberts, R.N., B.S.N, manager of the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program and Healthy Homes Initiative. “However, some holiday behaviors can affect your health or lead to injuries unless you take precautions.”

The following steps should be taken to help prevent injuries and illness:

    • Keep holiday decorations away from children. If you have a tree, use child-safe, non-breakable ornaments on the lower limbs, and use upper limbs for more fragile decorations, or put them on a shelf out of reach. Broken ornaments can cause injury, and Christmas lights often contain lead and other chemicals. Never allow children to lick or chew decorations. Wash hands after decorating the home.

    • Keep plants out of the reach of children. Children can become ill from eating or mouthing poinsettias, mistletoe and some houseplants. Household pets also can become ill from chewing or eating plants or holiday food that is not specifically made for animals.

    • Never leave burning candles unattended. Candles can be forgotten or knocked over, causing a fire.

    • Use caution when heating your home during the cold weather. Using a gas stove or a gas or kerosene space heater releases toxic gasses that can build up inside a home and cause illness, and electric space heaters can start fires. If you are having difficulty with gas or electric utilities during the cold weather, contact the United Way by dialing 2-1-1, and they might be able to help you locate agencies that provide assistance with utility bills.

    • Do not leave purses where children can find them; children might accidentally swallow medication found in the purse or luggage of a visiting relative.

    • Shovel and sweep walkways and sidewalks, and keep paths clear. Snow and ice can cause falls. Falls also can occur inside a home from cluttered stairs and pathways. Make sure stairs and walking areas are well lit and clear of tripping hazards.

    • Keep toys and other gifts age-appropriate. Younger children can be hurt by playing with older siblings’ toys. Small pieces and sharp parts can cause choking or injury. Check the packaging for age ranges. Supervise young children who are visiting.

    • After the celebration, look around for disposed wrapping paper or left-over parts from gifts. These items can be tripping or fire hazards.

For more information about the Healthy Homes Initiative or to schedule an appointment to test a toy or product for lead, call the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (816) 513-6048.

Media inquiries about this topic should be directed to Jeff Hershberger, public information officer for the Health Department, (816) 840-2548 (pager).


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