Breaking through barriers for workers
who have children with special needs

It's holiday time and active supervision is key

Be proactive. During family get-togethers talk about who is going to watch the children.  Take turns, so everyone gets time to relax.  Otherwise family and friends may assume that someone else is watching the young ones when in reality no one is. This is important whether you are a host, or are a guest.

Christmas trees and plants

  • Toddlers are curious and mobile. It’s perfectly natural for them to want to explore the tree and the decorations by touching, grabbing and trying to put ornaments in their mouth.  Holiday Time 1
  • It is unfair and unrealistic to expect toddlers to resist the temptation of a decorated tree within their reach. Make home life easier on everyone and place the tree away from the main living area.
  • The safest option is to have the tree out of reach. Families can consider a small tabletop tree that is beyond a child’s grasp and doesn’t have a hanging tablecloth underneath that can be pulled. Another option is to put the tree in a room with a safety gate so the child can see, but not touch the tree.
  • Compromising on holiday décor for a couple of years will ensure a more relaxing holiday.
  • Even with preschool children, it’s advisable to have soft, unbreakable decorations, such as those made of felt.
  • Keep holiday plants out of reach as well. Mistletoe and Holly are poisonous and can cause stomach upset.


  • Fire fighters dislike candles and with good reason.  An open flame is always a potential fire hazard, whether you have young children or not. Consider foregoing the candles all together, as they are one of the most common causes of household fires.
  • If holiday candles are an essential part of your holiday, keep them well beyond the reach of children, and extinguish them before leaving the room.
  • Place candles in very sturdy holders that aren’t likely to tip, and place them away from any flammable materials, such as curtains or tablecloths.

Holiday lights

  • Children can suffer electrical burns from touching hot lights, putting them in their mouHoliday Time 2ths, or chewing on electrical cords.
  • Holiday lights and electrical cords should be in good repair and out of children’s reach.  Use Christmas lights that do not get hot when used.

Choking hazards from nuts and candy

  • An estimated 44 children age 14 and under die every year in Canada from choking, suffocation and strangulation and many more are hospitalized for serious injuries. Almost half of the above hospitalizations are from choking on food.
  • Hard candies, nuts, popcorn, hot dogs and raw carrots are a choking hazard for children under 3 years of age. Keep these food items out of reach, and don’t put out bowls of nuts and candies where children can access them.
  • It’s a good idea to have children sit down while eating. Walking or running while eating is more likely to cause choking.

Entertaining with young children

  • Keep purses and bags out of toddlers’ reach. They contain items that could pose a danger, such as medicines, or a lighter.
  • Gas fireplaces can easily cause burns to the hands when the glass barrier is touched. The glass can heat up to over 200c (400F) in about 6 minutes and it takes an average of 45 minutes for the fireplace to cool down to a safe temperature after the fire has been extinguished. Holiday Time 3 Install safety gates to keep your child at a safe distance. Consider not using the fireplace if you have young children, or only using it when the children have gone to sleep for the evening, or turn off the unit completely, including the pilot flame, whenever the unit it not in use.
  • Buy presents that are age appropriate for the children on your list. Particularly for children under 3 years of age, choose toys without any small parts, or magnets.  Children can sustain serious injury from swallowing loose magnets.
  • Make sure that battery-operated toys are in good-condition and that the batteries are not accessible. If swallowed, button-type batteries can cause internal chemical burns or poisoning.